Sophia Vari’s Sculptural Jewellery comes to London
BY HANNAH SILVER
Elisabetta Cipriani unveils 40 of Sophia Vari’s wearable sculptures at exhibition ‘All Mediums are Noble’
Sophia Vari’s sculptural sensibilities are celebrated by Elisabetta Cipriani gallery, which this month has announced its first solo exhibition of the late Greek artist’s work (Vari passed away in May 2023). ‘All Mediums are Noble’ encompasses 40 wearable sculptures – 12 of which were created exclusively for the exhibition – made from a rich tapestry of materials, including resin, rock crystal, amaranth wood and marble.
For Cipriani, it is a rare chance to celebrate Vari’s work. ‘There are many things that I love about her jewellery,’ she says. ‘The main one is that all the pieces embellish the woman and at the same time they protect her. It is rare that a visual artist is able to make so many jewellery pieces that look wonderful on. They are all handmade and the craftsmanship is done to perfection. The other aspects that I love about her pieces is that they are sculptural, feminine, bold, with personality and extremely wearable. They are statement pieces without overpowering the wearer. They look beautiful on every person I have seen wearing them.’
Vari created the pieces seen in the exhibition from the early 2000s to 2023, and they epitomise her fascination with striking a balance between function and form. She commented in the past: ‘When I create jewellery, I don’t think about jewellery, it becomes jewellery at a later stage. The difference between a sculpture and jewel is that the latter must embellish and reassure the woman who wears it.’
‘It was an exciting surprise when the new pieces arrived at the gallery,’ Cipriani adds. ‘I was not involved in the creative process nor in the production; I never was with her work. I always trusted her taste and I knew she would create something very special for me. Sophia was very aware that I love her jewellery made of marble and wood and the surprise was not only to see her stimulating curiosity in experimenting with new materials but also to see an incredible evolution of the forms. They have more round, sensuous, clear lines and are radical at the same time. These forms live in harmony with the body and move like a delicate and sensual dance.’
‘All Mediums are Noble’ is on view until 7 July 2023 at elisabettacipriani.com/sophia-vari/
For a look at all of the other artists in the shop, tap here.
Sophia Vari’s “portable sculptures”, as she likes to call them, first became part of the artist’s body of work 30 years ago; at a time in her life when demanding international schedule kept her constantly on the move. While travelling, she carried with her a small box of plasticine, from which she would mould miniature sculptures. “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. Vari approaches wearable art in precisely the same manner and strength as her abstract sculptures, collages and paintings. Her thorough exploration of bold geometric forms, the examination of volume, painterly curves and lines result in the composition both peaceful and elegant but also captures a harmonious theatrical tension.
“It is a real challenge for me, and it is very much like creating a sculpture, made to be worn. No doubt, the fact that I am a woman has its advantages. Firstly, because I can try it on me – and secondly the fact that I have greater sensitivity compared to a male artist – enables me to highlight the female trait to a greater degree”, says Vari.
Only the highest quality materials from marble to bronze are used in Vari’s large-scale work. Similarly, her wearable art, the pieces combine the most refined materials such as gold, silver, wood, ebony, leather, root emerald, rock crystal and sapphire among others. Each piece of jewellery is a part of a limited edition or is a unique work, incised with the artist’s signature “Vari” and numbered like her sculptural works.
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.”