Gallery owner Pierre-Alain Challier asked 13 artists to create mirrors and jewelry using a little-known black stone: Armenian obsidian.
“Obsidian elevated man to the state of human: when we speak of the Stone Age in the East, we are talking about obsidian, not flint,” explains Pierre-Alain Challier. The ultra-black stone was used to make the pupils of the funeral mask of Tutankhamun‘s eyes or the mirrors with which the dead were buried. Then it disappeared…” The Soviet bloc prevented imports from Armenia,” continues Michel der Agobian, a specialist in the obsidian extracted from Mount Ararat. “It was used to make souvenirs for tourists.”
Variations on black
Jean-Luc Parant and Jean-Michel Othoniel created a raw block of obsidian with polished edges. Parant shaped it into figures evoking archaeology and then mounted it on a string. Othoniel then suspended it on a necklace made of glass beads, his favourite material, helping us to see the similarity of the shards. Mattia Bonetti cut perfectly round pearls from a block and then set them in transparent resin. Anne and Patrick Poirier imagined geometric architectural shapes assembled as in a construction set, in a huge necklace.
Arik Levy, crazy about obsidian
Arik Levy is the inspired artist who created the largest number of pieces. The black cubes encrusted with rings and the obsidian rock equipped with a chain and handcuffs are conceptual. He questions the desire to possess ever bigger stones, to the point that they become unwearable and turn us into slaves. Arik Levy finally explores the specificity of Armenian obsidian: a transparent material with black veins reminiscent of wood, positioning them both horizontally and vertically, across each other.
Drawing on the work of goldsmiths, sculptors, designers, architects and plastic artists, Michel der Agobian and Pierre Alain-Challier have propelled obsidian into modernity.
“Miroirs d’obsidienne, Miroirs et bijoux d’artistes” until 12 January 2019
Banner image: Arik Levy – Sculpture-jewel “Hold me tight” (detail)