Rings draw the eyes to the hands whether it’s a fashionable stack of fine mixed-metals adorning multiple fingers; a statement piece that borders on wearable art, or a family heirloom.
And German-born contemporary jeweller Karl Fritsch knows exactly how compelling rings can be. “A ring is curious and looks for curious wearers,” he says.
The German-born, classically trained goldsmith also studied fine arts and his pieces are held in public and private collections in New York, Munich and here in New Zealand where he resides.
“The ring is desperate to tell you: I love you, I am beautiful, I am rich, I am cool, I hate you…”
A few years ago I sat with Karl in a Wellington studio and I was eager to get my hands on his metal artworks. Having the opportunity to be up-close-and personal with his designs it was difficult not to marvel at his ability to create rings that are highly crafted, yet inextricably undone; metals morph as if derived from the remains of volcanic ash, and there is something to be said for his organic approach to let the forms speak for themselves.
Avoiding a desire to conform to the confines of commercial notions about what jewelry should look like, Karl has paved out a career over the past three decades with a unique and authentic voice, and there is an undeniable honesty and integrity to his work — his stunning creations all have a personality and story of their own.
His work is thought-provoking and each ring embodies a profound beauty that pushes the boundaries of convention posing the question: is this jewelry or sculpture? In this case, it is both.
“The ring is desperate, desperate to find a finger,” he says.
“It is desperate to tell you: I love you, I am beautiful, I am rich, I am cool, I hate you, I come from Ireland or Austria, I want more, I have enough, I am married, I am funny, I am scary, stupid, important, I can´t help you. I am.”
Karl’s collection, ‘Museum of Rings’ is on now until April 2017 at The Dowse Art Museum in Lower Hutt as part of a group exhibition Solo 2016: Six Wellington Artists. In this exhibition he references the formality of museums and the way in which objects that have associations with being worn and touched, are conversely, confined and protected.