petites éternités

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Let’s immediately rebuke a diehard commonplace: that any artist to create a work of art in reduced dimensions with precious materials – with clasps, pins and clips used for female (and not only) adornment – that any artist, as I was saying, is capable of creating a jewel. None of this is true. Such an artist will have created a miniature of one of his own works, no more no less. He will still be a painter or a sculptor who has experimented in a fascinating genre which he hardly knows.
He will probably have performed, digressing, a surplace within his own poetic, linguistic and expressive specificity (think of the jewels of Ernst, Tanguy, Arp, Calder, Burri, Fontana, Arman, Dalì, Melotti, Mirò and Ray, to mention but a few). That this work of art might be worn and exhibited as a jewel is another question. And yet another is that the same work be put on show in museums of contemporary art. I want to say that the preciousness of the material does not make the jewel. Instead, it is necessary that what is intrinsically precious, functionally precious, be the idea that lies behind it.
An idea that nearly always has little to do with Art. Here, I most certainly do not wish to participate in the diatribe between high Art and the minor arts which is undoubtedly a false problem that would channel our discourse into a different field, to the point of drawing us into those exaggerated ghettos that we call fashion and design.
In brief, the jewel belongs tout court to a sort of unknown sex of the creativity of art. In other words,the definition of “jewel of artist” is only a rather ambiguous and unclear usage, an usurpation of historical aesthetic conventions, an exegetic bluff on whose nature there has been insufficient reflection. Naturally this does not exclude that an artist, in abandoning the sacrosanct necessity of leaving his imprint in precious work, might create jewels, that is, mana-ges to think precious, to create a real jewel. But, in order to do so, he must move his creative sextant in another direction, bearing in mind that taste, the supreme category of the spirit – yet even in this case not necessarily traceable to the ultimate motives of art – affects the sphere of the desirable and hedonistic which orbits around the aesthetic. In paraphrasing Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s exhortation “to hide the depth on the surface”(1), one understands that preciousness is a question of skin, both in a literal and metaphoric sense. From here, the symbolic apothropaic and magical value that the jewel has always had – and that is common to all human civilisations – re-imposes itself and gives justice to too many conceptual misunderstandings. If art is sacred, profane is the jewel.
A diamond is forever, as is well-known; and a jewel can be no less. The incorruptibility of the materials that it is made of, confirms and exacts this, prefiguring a hypothesis of permanence, of eternity. But even art, indeed, especially Art, is eternal, despite the catastrophic forecasts of Duchamp (Fontana was no less in foreseeing that the life-span of the work of art would coincide with that of two human generations). And with this? Is there eternity and eternity? Is there an “always” son of a minor god? Is eternity thus an opinion and not an immutable dogma of everyman’s conscience? Maybe, and according with this conceptual line, the digital technologies - at least in an analogue key - can help us where relativism and numerical system end up by giving a chrism of spirituality and “manageable” metaphysics to virtual reality and to artificial
intelligence. If the infinitesimal can be decided by digital processing, then even the notion of Time can reveal itself according to its own hierarchy. From this perspective we can hypothesise parts, fragments, doses of infinity, so petites éternités. From goldsmith to sculptor, Paola Crema has admirably found the means of circumscribing her two
fields of action so that any possible interference between them would not alter in anyway the kind of eternity to which they are destined. In other words, the goldsmith of the initial period, who later became sculptor, did not just enlarge her jewellery into sculptures. She was unable to do so. This is because – as this book testifies, the artist continues to nurture
her first love, jewellery, along with the monumental bronzes - she has given these jewels a precise role, a role in which one can discover their distinctiveness, the unmistakable sign. Today as yesterday, the jewel is for her - and for us too – an object of narcissistic gratification, a talisman of lasting value, conjugating and uniting the transitory body as if to invest it with long-lastingness, to soothe it of its mortal destiny. “Body, which heals us of having a soul” writes Marguerite Yourcenar (2), and Paola Crema has taken possession of this declaration of absolute paganism so as to challenge it with the immutable splendour of her “small eternities”. Whoever wears them certainly do perform a worldly and futile exorcism. But this is essential for that “subtle survival” which can be traced back to the needs of fetishism and of superstition so wisely guarded in our collective memory.As such, the symbolism of the jewel is self- referent, it does not allow for deferment and consumes itself in the physical contact of the stone and the precious metal with the skin in an endless sensual pleasure that it gives. “The deepest is skin” Paul Valéry wrote (3), guaranteeing the level where emotion and pleasure, without doubt, interact. The jewel is always there, ready to intoxicate he who wears it. To illuminate with its light. To give happiness in the here and now. An object of desire and gratified love, it triumphs in uniqueness, in its capacity to seduce, incomparable and precious. Preciously skin deep. Paola Crema traces an insurmountable boundary around her hortus conclusus inhabited by the moonlight gleam of pearls, the carnal rubedo of coral and the enigmatic opalescence of jade. Around it is void, emptiness: there could be nothing else. But inside, the artist is horrified by that void and makes it vibrant with Life, inducing it to flow in a silver liquidwaste, inseminating and fecundating organic entities until the whole generates hybrid ectoplasms which participate without distinction, in the vegetable and animal order.A flow which germinates, eproduces, and taints itself in an incessant biomorphic mix, in prodigious sediments, in clots and cascades of shining resins, of pri-smatic cells and crystalline flakes that embed feeble chimera heads, medusae, mermaids, sphinges, caryatids, for a kind of syndrome of Erodiade: the Cruel Queen (4). A vast anonymously mythical cefalmorphic repertoire, marvellously banal which camouflages itself up to destruction and to total disappea-rance in a swarming mass of Life in progress.
Mannerist, Baroque or Symbolist? Is this not the place to put forward an exegetic hypothesis of the universe of Paola Crema, goldsmith, even in mere terms of style it has a place in the interstices of these historical Stimmung which have contaminated the waves of taste. In this domain of absolute ambiguity. Of exquisite appearance . Of parossistic mutation.
So long as the jewel, more precious than any other thing, takes vengeance on Art.


1) M.Yourcenar, Alexis, ou le traité du vain combat, Published by Feltrinelli, Milan 2002, page 24
2) H. von Hofmannsthal, Das Buch des Freunde, Published by Adelphi, Milan 1980, page 58
3) P. Valéry, L’idée fixe, NRF, Paris 1931, page 36
4) G. Serafini, Paola Crema / Continente Perduto, Ed. Centro Sperimentale di Arte Contemporanea, Florence 2006, page IX
petites éternités