SPRING AT PALAZZO FORTUNY. Barbara Paganin. Open Memory

The exhibition

Barbara Paganin
Open Memory

From March 8th to July 14th, 2014
Palazzo Fortuny, Venice

The exhibition presents jewels and stories that draw their inspiration from the emotions of their past, but which immediately open up to the world too, exploring the memories of others. Tangible elements of a borrowed memory: 19th-century miniatures, porcelain animal good-luck charms depicting mice, hippopotamuses, rabbits, ivory elephants, a little compass, the queen from a chess set…

This is the first time the artist has chosen to include “extraneous” elements and objets trouvés in her work. Her work begins with a search among the antiques shops of Venice to find these little objects, which one could imagine were once jealously guarded in some child’s “treasure casket”. The memory of others blends, therefore, with that of the artist herself. Some recurrent elements seem to aim to indicate this common denominator: tiny doll’s shoes – lost one day who knows where – step across the works in tiny steps; they suddenly appear, isolated, almost unrecognisable, before rushing away and then reappearing in a bunch on another brooch. And are those multicoloured glass “baobabs” above the faces of the young women not like the “cauliflower” trees so dear to the imagination of Barbara Paganin?

Every brooch tells a story, which can be imagined differently by every observer, adapting it to his own memory. There is no single key to interpret it, but instead a different one for every “reader” of this album of memories composed chapter after chapter. The 25 works are planned as a single corpus, on which Paganin has worked continuously over the past two years, and are designed to be displayed all together for the first time at Palazzo Fortuny. It was the very nature of the venue, of the museum itself, in which the collections of the past and contemporary art appear side by side in harmony and exchange, that stimulated the artist for this dialogue with memory and her small objects on which the entire existence as adults can sometimes rest.

A Venetian artist, Barbara Paganin (b. 1961) studied metals and jewellery at the Istituto Statale d’Arte in Venice and sculpture at the Accademia di Belle Arti of Venice. She worked for about a year in the technical department of Venini and then began teaching professional design in 1987 at the Istituto Statale d’Arte Pietro Selvatico in Padua. Since 1988, she has held the chair in professional design for the art of metals and jewellery at the Istituto Statale d’Arte in Venice, now the Liceo Artistico Michelangelo Guggenheim, where she also teaches design projects. In 2002, she taught a Master class at the Royal College of London.

Her works arise from her experience using precious metals, but her expressiveness has evolved over time, leading her to try out ever different materials and techniques. She has learned and mastered the techniques used in glassmaking, resins and porcelain which, for example, are used in her jewels, alongside gold and tarnished silver.

For over 25 years, she has regularly exhibited in galleries in Europe (for example in London, Vienna, Munich, Göteborg and Paris) and in New York. Her first AURA personal exhibition at the Galleria della Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa dates from 1990. In 2008, she participated with over 30 works at the major collective show, Gioielli d’Autore, in Padua.

Her works are in the permanent collections of many museums. Among these: the V&A in London, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Museo d’Arte Moderna di Ca’ Pesaro in Venice, the Musée des Beaux Arts in Montreal, the LACMA in Los Angeles.

Among the awards she has won is a Bevilacqua La Masa scholarship in 1989. Among her most recent prizes are, in 2006, Glassdressing, Ca’ Rezzonico, Venice, Museo Revoltella, Trieste. Award for best designer in the Province of Venice.

Curated by Valeria Accornero

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