Artist’s reception Thursday, December 29, celebrates 10 years with Gallery

German-born metal smith Petra Class tends to work thematically, using stones the way painters use paint to create her signature collections of whimsical jewelry. Leitmotifs for her upcoming blockbuster at the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art – we are talking 200 pieces! – include light blue sapphires from Montana, lapis, which the artists loves for its opaqueness, 22 and 18K gold, uncut and cut gemstones (Including raw diamonds) and sculptural silver pieces.

Petra is in town for a show of her newest fanciful, free-form pieces and to celebrate her 10th anniversary with the Gallery. The artist’s reception,Thursday, December 29,  takes place from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at 130 East Colorado.

The legacy of artists such as Piet Mondrian and Alexander Calder resounds in Class’s work.

“Mondrian would begin with a recognizable image, a tree, a door or a seascape for example, which ultimately became less and less recognizable, ending up as nothing more than rhythmical patterns,” explained Petra. “Just like a jazz musician and many abstract painters, over the years I find certain themes recurring in my work: the rhythmical arrangements of several elements, repetition of similar forms or colors, the unexpected contrasts of differently textured materials. Mondrian’s later paintings, his rigorously geometric abstractions, are all about carefully balanced color, contrast, volume, and rhythm.”

Like Calder, Class creates non-figurative constructions. His move. Hers don’t, although in Petra’s pieces movement is often implied: stones seem to dance.

Mondrian exuded messianic seriousness and Calder took delight in the comic and fantastic. Emotionally, Class is much more akin to Calder.

“I don’t take the design process seriously. My approach is anything but intellectual. Sometimes I find myself going way over the top. I never want to become a conceptual jeweler. I have a kid and I watch children play all the time. Forget about minimalism or ‘form follows function.’ For me, it’s about having fun. Calder’s sense of play was wonderful. I just love his asymmetrical floating shapes.”

Of all her influences that of her former teacher Hermann Junger appears to be the strongest:

“Junger really is the one who developed jewelry into an art form.”

Junger’s primary interest was to change the focus of German goldsmiths from merely producing smooth surfaces and precision settings to taking a fuller part in creating their own designs. Although he was as technically proficient as any of his colleagues, Junger developed a style that underscored his departure from standard practices by taking artistic license and even delighting in imperfections and a degree of randomness in composition.

“Sometimes I sit in front of a pile of stones and patterns take form before my eyes,” continued Petra. “I guess you could describe my work as structured chaos.”

Petra’s design goal has remained consistent over the course of her career.

“Within the self-imposed limitations of, for instance, making a gold brooch, I feel I can, through my choice of colors and textures, communicate a certain mood, an attitude towards life that in turn will be, I hope, sensed by whoever is looking at a piece, much in the way people respond to improvisational jazz or abstract paintings. The one thing that guides me remains the same: to try to listen to the inner quality of each element and create a composition that does it justice.”

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