Artist Sophia Vari first realised that her large-scale clay models might also take the more petite form of fine jewellery – or, what she fondly refers to as ‘portable sculptures’ – some 20 years ago. ‘From that day on, I had a new creative challenge that gave me a lot of joy because I could see the pieces being worn,’ she recalls. The wife of painter Fernando Botero, Vari approaches jewellery design in precisely the same manner as her abstract sculptures, collages and paintings, which express an enduring fascination for Cycladic and Olmec art. ‘I don’t differentiate in style or theme. I always work with the same force and exigency.’
'Clytia II' brooch pendant, in 14-ct gold plated silver and wood (2010)
As such, a recently opened exhibition at Galerie Gmurzynska’s St Moritz outpost showcases over 30 of the artist’s geometric jewellery pieces. ‘We wanted to show a cross-section of Vari’s jewellery oeuvre in a gallery context,’ explains Galerie Gmurzynska CEO Mathias Rastorfer. Gmurzynska has previously exhibited artist’s jewellery by names including Calder and Picasso. That Vari’s name is now added to that roster is clearly a source of delight: ‘This gallery has represented so many important artists over decades, it’s a great honour to be exhibited here,’ she says.
From a gold pendant of sharp folds to a structured rose gold cuff with a central marble dome, Vari’s jewellery language is at once abstract and elegant. ‘Aside from being a piece of art that brings beauty and happiness, I believe that jewellery holds memories and that the pieces can transmit this,’ she says. Of her methods, she reveals: ‘It can take a week, a month or even more to realise a piece. I work until I know that I can’t take away or add anything more.’