The magic of a material that became a problem is one of the themes in Art Aurea’s summer edition (no. 52).

Much of what the modern world has brought us is simultaneously a blessing and a curse. This also applies to plastics. Major developments in science, technology and the economy would have been impossible without the technical properties of plastics, which include malleability, strength and cheap processing. But the dangers associated with plastics were unfortunately ignored. Used carelessly and thoughtlessly, plastic wastes pollute our soil, float in rivers and oceans in terrifyingly huge quantities, and destroy life – animal life and, ultimately probably also human life. Since the 1960s, many artists have also succumbed to the allure of plastics. For example, Niki de Saint Phalle relied on plastics in the design of her colorful Nanas. And Peter Chang used plastics in jewelry art, although he melted down previously used plastic for his expressive bracelets, thus giving a second life to the synthetic material. 

Chang, who died in 2021, was one of the artists with whom Olga Zobel Biró opened the world’s first and only gallery for plastic jewelry in Munich in 1992. Their mutual goal was “to show the aesthetic aspect of the material that shaped our century.” Joining them were Gijs Bakker and Paul Derrez from Holland, Thomas Gentile from New York, Pavel Opocensky from Prague, and several other artists. You can still find the word “plastic” in the name of the gallery at the entrance, although plastic has long since been replaced by “author’s jewelry” in the gallery’s concept and on its website. Julie Metzdorf wrote the story of Olga and her daughter Kinga Zobel; Ulrike Myrzik photographed these two protagonists of jewelry art at their apartment in Munich. 

Passionate about international jewelry art in Munich. Olga Zobel Biró and her daughter Kinga Zobel. Photo: Ulrike Myrzik.

Jan-Hein van Melis also makes one think of plastic because orange is the color around which his design work revolves – and orange is inextricably linked with the plastic-loving Space Age and the mid-century modern design of the 1960s and ’70s. In a former tannery in Rijen near Tilburg, this Dutchman now works not with plastic, but with fine porcelain from Wedgwood and KPM in ways that make nostalgic people’s mouths water. The article by Piet de Jong with photographs by Studio Goedewaagen Photography.

In a former Dutch leather tannery, Jan-Hein van Melis paints fine porcelain with nostalgic motifs – all in orange. Photo: Studio Goedewaagen.

The photo artist Suzanne Jongmans is highly recommended to any of our readers who don’t have the opportunity to view the much-praised Jan Vermeer exhibition in Amsterdam. Inspired by the great painters of the past, she creates historical costumes and scenes from materials of our own day and age, for example, used clothes, trash and plastics. Her example reveals how artists’ attitudes toward the synthetic material have changed. Jongmans’ stunning portraits appeal to our yearning for beauty and an idealization that richly deserves to be questioned. At the same time, and like many other artists, she highlights the thoughtless consumption of our era and the short-lived products of our throwaway society. It’s high time that we change this together – and satisfy our longing for beauty in a different way.

Suzanne Jongmans’ photos resemble the paintings of old Dutch painters. Owen the dialogue. Photo on Hahnemühle paper, 75 x 95 cm, edition 8 + 2 AP.

Arts Crafts World – All Women This Time

The “Arts Crafts World” section is a concentrated presentation of the diversity of current, contemporary works that combine art and craft in an exemplary manner. Its special feature is that the artists are not selected by the editorial team, but by curators and connoisseurs from around the globe. 

Rita Trindade from Portugal is the founder and curator of ThroughObjects. She selected Signe Emdal from Denmark, in whose textile artworks various cultures encounter one another in delicate colors and charming shapes. 

The Danish textile artist Signe Emdal. On her loom is “Palladio,” which she created for the 2022 Homo Faber exhibition Crafting a More Human Future in Venice. Photo: Kristine Fuch.

Nele van Wieringen from Ceramics Museum Westerwald introduces Anne Mette Hjortshøj from Bornholm, a Danish island in the Baltic Sea. With great respect for local traditions and raw materials, the ceramicist makes usable yet beautifully shaped tableware.

The gallerists Renate Slavik and Jutta Pietsch from Vienna stayed in Austria’s capital with their selection and chose Petra Zimmermann, whose jewelry playfully explores the history of jewelry and Viennese modernism.

The silversmith Marit Bindernagel from Hildesheim presents one of her colleagues: Berlin-based Friederike Maltz, who created a series of knives from threaded rods. The knives beautifully express Maltz’s creativity and mastery of craftsmanship, Bindernagel says.

Florina Moser, a member of the Teximus 4 jury, explains, “What at first glance resembles a photograph turns out to be a tapestry when you look at it more closely.” Aishan Turbayeva-Wiedenmeier, born in Kazakhstan, tells her gripping story.

Exhibitions that change perceptions and prizes that bring happiness

New identity, new name, ambitious goals. The “Evolutions” exhibition by the “ThinkingHand” artist duo marks the beginning of a new era at the Ebeltoft Glass Museum in Denmark. 

Glass object from the Mycogenesis installation by Studio ThinkingHand. Photos courtesy of glas Museet for Glaskunst and Studio ThinkingHand.

Herbert Hofmann Prize 2023. The prestigious jewelry art award goes to Tamara Marbl Joka from Oslo, Jutta Kallfelz from Bad Münstereifel, Germany, and Neke Moa from New Zealand.

Ceramic Artist Exchange 2023. The fellows in Neumünster are all dedicated to fine arts. Visitors are invited to take part in the dialogue.

Bavarian State Awards. Eleven prizes were awarded for design and six others for technology at the 2023 IHM. 

The Imaginary House is an exhibition at the Gewerbemuseum Winterthur of a kind that one would like to see more often. The Zurich-based painter Uwe Wittwer, the Japanese ceramicist Aiko Watanabe and the Bernese writer Jürg Halter each rely on their own discipline to interpret the cult film “Ugetsu Monogatari – Tales of Moonlight and Rain” (1953).

Thomas Schütte Sculptures. The exhibition at his sculpture hall in Neuss/Holzheim shows how it looks when ceramics are made by a great name in fine arts. 

As usual, the summer issue has 92 pages including the cover and is available in leading galleries and stores for 12 euros (EU 14 euros). For postal orders, please send an email to  

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