Considered to be something of a maverick in the world of jewellery design, Chus Burés has been known to use unusual materials — water, perfume, sugar, and chocolate — to create his avant-garde works of wearable art.
For over three decades the designer has collaborated with some of the most important artists of the 20th century — filmmakers, poets, painters, sculptors, and fashion designers — in a variety of media. Through this intimate dialogue, Burés has succeeded in expanding the scope of their art.
Specialist Kristen France spoke with Burés to discuss his work and his collaborations with Latin American artists such as Carlos Cruz-Diez, Julio Le Parc, Carmen Herrera and César Paternosto, which feature in this sale.
Kristen France: How did you get your start in jewellery design and what drew you to this form of art?
Chus Burés: I actually studied interior design in my hometown of Barcelona but have always been fascinated by body language and corporeal ornamentation as modes of expression, both cultural and personal, which led me to shift my focus to jewellery design.
KF: From rough idea to the final product, what can you tell us about your process?
CB: I have many ways of working. Each new idea requires something different, each design or idea is like a new problem to solve. Some designs begin as sketches and from there I can design the prototype. Other ideas require me to make a paper maquette to see how the form would really take shape in three dimensions.
KF: What about your collaborations with artists — how do they come about?
CB: I started working with other artists in the 1980s in Madrid. My first collaboration was with Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar and from there I continued to collaborate with artists. You could say that the pieces I develop with contemporary artists are the most experimental aspects of my job.
When we work on a common project we have the same goal in mind and it is truly a dual collaboration — a dialogue between artists. It’s not as if the artist comes to me with a fixed idea of what he or she wants to do; rather we create together, our vision coming from distinct perspectives — that of the artist and that of the designer — and through this we are able to offer something new to the field of jewellery design.
KF: What do you find most rewarding about what you do? And what are the biggest challenges?
CB: The possibility to see ideas come alive in physical form — this is both the most rewarding and the most challenging; to see if your ideas are viable or not and to strive to make your ideas materialise. Above all, I love what I do. My profession is my way of life, it is very important to me; it is my universe.
CB: I met Carlos Cruz-Diez in conjunction with an exhibition that he was participating in called Dynamo in Paris. In this case, it was I who approached him. I had already been working with a handful of important kinetic artists, and I believed it was imperative that I include his voice as well. The meeting went marvellously well, he loved everything I had done with other kinetic artists and was pleased to work with me.
Kinetic art translates quite well to jewellery; in a way, it is a form of kinetic art in that it is in constant movement against the human body. This play with movement makes it very interesting when it comes to creating.
CB: My collaboration with Julio Le Parc was very fruitful. It was actually his son Yamil who invited me to work with his father. I visited them in his atelier in Paris and Julio struck me as a very dynamic person, with a real desire to experiment.
We met on many occasions, reviewed the designs I had done with other artists, and he offered ideas. In turn, I made suggestions, and from there we began a genuine dialogue from which many interesting pieces were created. This was one of the most prolific and marvellous collaborations I have done. His pieces have sold well and many of the editions are nearly completely sold out.
CB: Carmen Herrera’s art, her radical and colour-focused viewpoint, is very intriguing to me, and it seemed to be a great departure point to create jewellery.
I first met Carmen on one of my many trips to New York, and we got along really well. It had never occurred to her to create jewellery but she is passionate about it and always wears discreet but very elegant pieces. We met many times in New York and we ‘cooked up’ a wonderful series of designs that enjoyed great success in Europe and the United States, especially among Latin American art collectors.
CB: I met César Paternosto first in London. Later I visited him in his atelier in Segovia and we went to work right away. César is very politically involved, and so is his art.