An extravagant jewelry collection in Brussels

Sophie de Kinkelin, necklace in red feathers from Aratinga solstitialis, North Brazil

Travelling to Brussels for the opening of Solange Thierry de Saint Rapt’s jewelry exhibition “Objets ambigus”, was exciting and fun. This long time collector (over 40 years) of extravagant artist’s jewelry, has been wearing the largest and longest necklaces, the most threatening rings, and many purple jewels at every art opening, while she was running l’Oeil magazine. Now, is the occasion to see a third of her collection at Bozar, Brussels, where the minister of Economy, Didier Gosuin, introduced her show as part of “Design September”.

Paul Dujardin, director of Bozar with Solange Thierry de Saint Rapt wearing a necklace by Yiyan Zhou

A few years ago, Solange Thierry de Saint Rapt returned to live in Brussels where she spent a large part of her youth and studied History of Art in Louvain. But her collection was mostly formed in Paris with artists she collaborated with and three main galleries, Naïla de Montbrison, Elsa Vanier and Esther de Beaucé (who has just enlarged her gallery Minismasterpiece). There are no specific rules except passion and “démesure”, excessiveness. She has a special love for purple and for extravagant mediums like the necklace made by Alina Alamorean, “Chopin”, with large piano parts that she features wearing in the book just published by Edition du Regard.

Alina Alamorean, Urban warrior necklace, 2011

There are many pieces by this Romanian artist who fled her country as a student and settled in France. I particularly warmed to her electrical “resistances”, lightbulbs and “urban warrior” necklaces. Organized by themes, “mineral”, “animal”, “found objects” and “vegetal”, the seven window boxes of the show at Bozar, are decorated with a marmorean grey mousse where each piece lies comfortably. The designer wanted it to be as soft as a jewelry box.

It is always difficult to show jewelry and there is an ambiance in the room that reflects the originality of the pieces. Yet one stands often too far to see them properly.

David Bielander, Mamba necklace, 2012, titanium and gold

Some of the necklaces are so long that they sit on Solange’s laps while she is having dinner like Thierry Bontridder‘s “sautoir”, 1987. All great names are present such as Pol Bury, Claude Lalanne, Goudji, Ron Arad, Elisabeth Garouste, Ettore Sottsass, Julio Le Parc, Hervé Van Der Straeten, Anish Kapoor and Isabelle de Borchgrave with a paper bracelet. Some artists like David Bielander, Gilles Jonemann, Giorgio Vigna and Jean Boggio have often worked with Solange, who likes visiting their studios and building the piece with them.

Seth Papac, 2011, wood, silver and string

There are a few rings exhibited which are less easy to see and only in the superb book published by Editions du Regard, “Contemporary jewels, a passion“, does one apprehend fully the quality of the pieces. The photographs by Paul Louis are exceptional, and the editor José Alvarez has known the collection for a long time. It is a major collaboration and a great success.

Thea Tolsma, gum, agatha and gold necklace, Vanitas, 1993, photo Paul Louis

There are many glass pieces including a “cristal skull” necklace, 2016 by Moniek Schrijer and of course amazing amethyst and ebony or black coral works by Jack An Lahn, who is a favorite.

Paul Derrez, colored cork, 1985

If you don’t have time to run to Brussels before October 14, make sure to buy the book which is a mine of information on contemporary jewels and has a great text by Chantal Bizot. (Bozar,  rue raven stein, 23, Brussels, until October 14)

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2 Comments on “An extravagant jewelry collection in Brussels”

  1. Brigid Williams

    What imagination and courage – both to design AND to wear these.
    But it is your own imagination that makes it exciting to read about this collection!

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