At the end of the fifteenth century the Domus Aurea – Golden House – was excavated in Rome. Once it had been the huge palace of emperor Nero. It turned out that its walls were fully decorated with painted ornaments. Their playfulness was a revelation to the artists of the budding Renaissance: they had only been familiar with the austerity of the Roman architectural and sculptural remains. The discovery revived this decorative approach from antiquity and for many centuries ornaments flourished on every surface imaginable. Until around 1900 when the Austrian architect Loos and other modernists banned all this sort of embellishment.
In the traditional ornament the playful application of abstracted plants and flowers, imaginary creatures and all sorts of symbols is contrasted with the ordering structure of symmetry and a surrounding framework. In this respect it is interesting that ornament comes from two Latin words: ornare-to decorate, and ordinare-to organize.
Evert Nijland’s jewellery is derived from the richness of Europe’s cultural history. Over the past fifteen years his pieces referred to drawings of Leonardo Da Vinci, paintings by Lucas Cranach and the art of the eighteenth century. After making necklaces for many years, Nijland has now returned to the brooch. Because it is a relatively autonomous object it was a good starting point for investigating the possibilities of the ornament. It was a process of challenging opposites: exploring freedom within a formal over-all contour, and acknowledging the ‘public’ front of a brooch and its usually invisible backside. There are also opposites in his choice of materials and their processing. An archaic material like weathered wood was combined with elements made by a master glassblower; he used basic techniques like rivetting or binding, next to laser cutting and industrial etching.
Ornaments are always, even in their absence, the key to a specific style period. Many years the pleasures of decorating were almost absent from the public realm, despite the fact that for ages man had enjoyed their whimsical enchantment and fashionable appeal. Within the boundaries he had set himself, Evert Nijland used the freedom of ornaments to celebrate his personal imagery. The resulting new pieces of jewellery will once again be a reflection of their own time, which seems to offer unlimited possibilities and at the same time presents unavoidable restrictions.
(© Galerie Rob Koudijs)
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This post is filed under Blog, Exhibitions, Netherlands and tagged with Amsterdam, Evert Nijland, Galerie Rob Koudijs.