The Alchemical Egg. Visions and revelations of an enigma.
Fifteen pieces, five artists, three colours and One Great Opus: this is The Alchemical Egg, an exhibition investigating the three stages of alchemical knowledge, interpreted by three goldsmiths and two enamellers, curated by Nichka Marobin, organized in collaboration with Hannah Gallery by Klimt02 and Joya Barcelona International Art Jewellery Fair.
Artist list: Aurélie Guillaume, Gigi Mariani, Wendy McAllister, Per Suntum, Tore Svensson
Coming across the alchemical egg is gliding into the Arcana Artis, following the egg is diving into the Great Opus.
The study of Ars Magna, practiced throughout Europe, Egypt and Asia, arrived in Western Europe by the translation of an Arabian manuscript and, from that moment, as an underground river, the interest for this philosophical knowledge and practice never faded.
A search of knowledge, a millennial tradition, a proto-science, a discovery of the self; a quest of immortality through the creation and discovery of the Philosophical stone and the transmutation of the matter; an embryonic stage of chemistry: a discipline considered so obscure to be practiced in secret; a sort of witchcraft and one of the key for the recognition of the self, according to Jung: these are only few of the aspects related to Alchemy.
Chēmeía, this was the ancient Greek term for “alloying”, was allegedly considered as the practice for the transmutation of metals in gold, but the final aim was reaching knowledge, gnosis, in complete harmonious union with Nature. The study of Alchemy, through its three stages of knowledge and the concoction of elements, transmuted the matter using fire as the main media of transition: we focused on these passages to enlighten the works of the five contemporary jewellers called to showcase their own quest of the philosopher's stone.
By following the three stages of nigredo, albedo and rubedo, we wanted to set in our contemporaneity the alchemical cognitive path through the use of fire, metals and enamels in order to see how the Artists' intervention changes the status of the matter by concocting, dissolving, separating, distilling, purifying, fixing. This interpolation, made by the Artists-Alchemists, tends in one hand to pulverize Time, but, on the other hand, to fix it in a tangible piece.
How does humankind (and Artists in particular) gain a growing intervention in matter? And this intervention on the inner nature of the matter made by the Artist/Alchemist could be contemplated as an intervention on temporality? Does the Alchemist (and the Artist in our case) want to replace Time? And this concept of pulverization of Time is not an anticipation of what is the essential ideology of the modern world? Do we have Homo Faber first or the Alchemist?
All our questions are hints of something that we cannot seize entirely, as it happens for the works of Jheronymus Bosch. Everything related to him seems to be an enigma: the visions, the hells, the delights; the monsters, the men; his life emerges from the very few records found in historical archives, able to trace his movements; his works are always in discussion, both under the aspect of chronology, or under the aspect of the attribution; his oeuvres, again, never cease to emanate their spell and their fascination and we still do not know how it was that a King like Philip II of Spain loved Bosch's paintings so much to collect them in large number.
That obscure secrecy, painted in veils of light and shadow, almost clear to be described, but far away to be easily decoded, has been clarified along the years through some reading keys, and the strict order of his triptychs has been revealed, even if in all the scenes a center seems always being lacking.
Many have been the aspects that influenced Bosch's oeuvre, but the most intriguing one, according to us, was the one related to Alchemy. Bosch disseminated his works of eggs, shells, spheres: through a forest of symbols, these elements seem to be related to Alchemy and the emblem of the egg, considered as the Alchemical vessel, emerges from the panels.
Thus, the Alchemical Egg is the beginning - ab ovo - and the end of our journey, recalling the circularity of time and matter.
Nichka Marobin, Exhibition Curator
Amador Bertomeu and Leo Caballero, Gallerists