One of my fondest memories as a child is standing in front of pictures, sculptures or reliefs embossed on sheet copper, made by my great- uncle, Alfredo Bortoluzzi. Pictures of copper; foreign cultures, a family crest with a helmet, a crown and a stork.
I was drawn to them as if by magic, they touched me deeply, again and again.
The material, copper, the fine chasings – it was a mystery to me where they came from and how they had been done.
Repeatedly, my mother had to tell me about “Onkel Freddy”, my grandfather’s brother, the artist, the Bauhaus member.
Last year, a good friend of mine, an architect, pointed out the forthcoming Bauhaus anniversary in 2019.
For years I had been stumbling across my great- uncle’s traces, whose life resembled a novel.
Nevertheless, I had never been in such close contact with the matter as in the following months.
He studied at the Bauhaus in Dessau with Paul Klee and was an enthusiastic member of the Bauhausbühne (the Bauhaus theatre workshop) with Master of Form Oskar Schlemmer.
In 1933, however, the Nazis prohibited his art. He won a highly decorated ballet competition at the Paris Opera and stayed there for two years as a soloist dancer. In 1936, Herbert von Karajan asked him to join the opera in Aachen. After that, he became a choreographer at the opera in Breslau.
In 1943, the Nazis sent him to a labor camp close to Auschwitz. During the day, he had to dig anti- tank trenches against (?) the Red Army, at night he had to dance for the soldiers.
But he was able to escape and curated the first exhibition of “degenerate Art” with Kandinsky in Heidelberg in 1946.
After that, he helped built up the Badische Staatsballet in Karlsruhe ( the ballet company in Karlsruhe). After a serious accident he emigrated to Apulia with a friend and built a house in the Bauhaus style, right at the coast.
They claimed to be brothers and had hired a housekeeper who declared to be the wife of one of them. However, she became pregnant by one of the men from the fishing village. The story was revealed. But it never became a problem, as the two artists were very popular in the village.
He died in 1995. His works are kept in a Fondazione in Foggia.
I researched his story with my mother`s help and the journalist Barbara Hein from “Art” magazine, receiving help and information, amongst others, from the Bauhaus archive and the Paul Klee Zentrum in Berlin.
I travelled to Peschici in Apulia, found his house, I studied his legacy and time and again, I came across the name of Paul Klee.
When I started working on the collection “ECHOES”, it was all quite blurred.
I had a lot of respect researching this topic. It fills whole rooms in libraries; infinite, agonizing studying was awaiting me.
After having started to familiarize myself with the material, I was gradually drawn into it.
I quickly realized: there is no single Bauhaus. A school that changed its venue three times in a short time, had three directors, in a time which was infamous for its political and social excesses. That is more than just a few design classics, buildings and state institutions that are making an effort for the anniversary.
I decided to dedicate a whole year to this sensitive topic of German history.
But what should a Bauhaus inspired collection look like?
How to start?
For me, and probably for everybody else, the most memorable Bauhaus elements are the three basic forms.
Triangle, square and circle. In the three basic colors, yellow, red and blue.
These three elements were going to offer me a different view. At the Bauhaus, you have to think around the corner.
When Bauhaus developed at the beginning of the 20th century, after all the decorative and pompous epochs which had been formed by religious opulence, imperial uniformed militarism and nationwide folklore, unconditional progress pushed forward, incarcerated by World War One and the aftermath of the Industrial Revolution.
While technology developed, people stayed behind. After the end of the First World War, opulence was destroyed. Destruction, agony and lack of housing held the young republic in its grip.
At the same time the streets were filled with visions of modernity, electric light and cars. In the big cities modernity exploded and modernity needed a school – Bauhaus.
Paradoxically, this “school of modernity” relied on archaic institutions like craft and artisanry. Students and masters.
A holistic, artistic and manual training, hopefully integrally forming the new men and women.
The Bauhaus offered young people a training ground for the future.
By working with these new techniques as well as discussing political and social questions Bauhaus was going to be free!
Back to the echoes.
My great uncle studied with Paul Klee in Dessau.
I was magically attracted to Paul Klee.
His theories of color and form as well as his mathematical- graphic drawings accompanying them.
“I have to turn into crystal,” like Paul Klee once said during the First World War, to save himself of the brutal reality of his time.
It’s mostly about colors. The presentation of colors, which you can delight in without disruptive “emphasizing adjectives”.
The task is to build a structure that enables its carrying colors to be visible.
For example, the chain “Im Mittelpunkt – In the Centre”- made from simple, delicate rectangles which have been filled with plique- à- jour enamel, forming a color gradation.
It was extremely complex to create, but is, at the end, light and absolutely natural.
I work with enamel and enamel varnish, with jewels and epoxy, with coloured gold alloy and plating.
“Echoes” employs a range from elaborate single pieces to a series of costume jewellery.
Echoes delineate the decreasing sound of a “big bang” – up to total silence.
What remains is the memory.
My jewellery is meant to make the memory wearable, turn itself into a big bang and fade into being an echo over time.
Until it might also be rediscovered.
Ring made out of 18ct yellow gold with 27,45ct Turmalin
Price: 22.000,00 €