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Ivar Kaasik 31.03–30.04.2018

“Pieces of jewellery are not considered art, even if they really yearn for the status. Especially gold and gems. All kind of gimcrackery is not art, despite the fact that the display windows are full of them. Jewellery is non-art.”   This is the message of Ivar Kaasik’s present exhibition where the artist presents works relating to paint and the faded brilliance of crystals.

What’s more – any kind of harmony, balance and compatibility has been avoided. There is lack of taste and beauty. The result is art. At least it really aims at being art. But is it enough in order to become a great work or art? Certainly not. However, when the objects were exhibited in a museum or an art gallery then even the smallest objects will become magnificent. Like in a fairy tale where words of wisdom are often expressed though vague hints or by birds and animals.  

“What is your favourite colour and favourite stone? Where did you recently travel to? What kind of materials do you use? Why such incomprehensible names?” It gets really complicated when artists themselves have to talk about their work or to describe their creative process, to reveal facts about their family and home. One has to create a myth and remain in the shadow in order to offer the viewers the opportunity to decide themselves what to see. Whereas Kaasik’s earlier works have been covered with diamonds then his new pieces form a symbiosis of patches of paint, heaps of stones, surfaces covered with ash and dust. The artist has eliminated the measure of a man and the naturalness of material. The exposition reminds of plastic, nature has been replaced by hopelessness. When touching the pieces these will either fall into pieces or become totally broken. Trivial materials, deliberate errors, strong anonymity and shaky details contribute to the humorous atmosphere of the exhibition.

Ivar Kaasik was born on April 12, 1965 in Kuressaare. He studied in the department of architecture and later in the department of metal art of the Estonian Academy of Arts (former Estonian State Art Institute) in 1983-1992; in Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design, Halle in 1989-1990. Afterwards he worked various professions, for instance as a goldsmith in Germany in 1992-1999. Since 1999 Kaasik has been a freelance artist. He has participated in exhibitions since 1989. Kaasik is a member of Association of German Artists since 2001 and Estonian Artists’ Association since 2012. He is also a member of Estonian Metal Artists’ Union and Estonian Painters’ Union.

Ivar Kaasik has been awarded the Diamond International Award (1996) that is the most prestigeous awards for jewellery design. As a writer, Kaasik has expressed himself in his written work “Ettevaatust, kunst! Mida teha. Kuidas ja kui palju” (“Beware of art! What to do. How and how much”, published in 2011) where the author disregards pathos and traditional approaches in art and calls the genre of his book “minimum and maximum programme”.

Ivar Kaasik’s work is often incomprehensible; his pieces have been inspired by direct urge not to think and by the forced anonymous monologue, indirect hints and undubious possibilities of interpretation.   Exploiting of the subject of being a man is one of main themes in Kaasik’s work whereas the artist is not stuck in the surface of social orders and expectations of mass culture but delves directly into the universe of bodily needs. Kaasik’s appropriational irony together with the phenomenon of craft and incomprehensible technique have developed temporal atmosphere and a somewhat artificial world soothed into singularity in his work. His jewellery can be juxtaposed to the stories without a happy end.

Is there anything that has not been seen yet? Perhaps this will become a new challenge for the art of jewellery: to display something that won’t deserve displaying. Art and crafts – are these the two arbitrarily referred poles between which contemporary jewellery art oscillates while never reaching the agreement and thus attracting the viewer’s interest.   If disregarding the problems concerning the need for jewellery and the existence of a jewellery artist then which processes decide the status of jewellery in society? How are the processes related to the approaches and decisions made by people as social beings?

At this point, the emphasis is not on an impressive artisan skills of a goldsmith neither on a direct connection between the artist’s biography/psychology and his or her artwork. The thing only has to do with its own rationality.   The following questions – who decides the development of a piece of jewellery and how is it made, who solves the issues related to the production process – must be treated individually with every artist. This is a game with specific dynamics where the patterns of process are accompanied by an incomprehensible opposition. Not only elegance but also bodily intrusion.