“Contemporary Art jewelry itself, whether applied art form, microsculpture, or craft, is above all a form of wearable art that adorns the body and is an eloquent means of self-expression not only for the artist but also for the wearer.As such it is an art form that is woven tightly into the fabric of everyday life.”
El. Marneri Galerie is located at the southern foot of the Athens Acropolis, in a space erected upon the exposed remains of a Late Antiquity villa urbana. These cherished traces of the city’s distant past, a hushed but compelling presence across the gallery’s immaculately modern space, perhaps evoke a metaphor for the valuable contents of the gallery itself: jewelry, which, whether precious or not, has been a constant companion of the body throughout human history.
The gallery has been active for over two decades. It was in fact the first space of its kind in Greece, that is, the first gallery to be entirely concerned with showcasing and promoting contemporary and art jewelry. Its role in both shaping and providing support for what is currently the Greek contemporary jewelry scene, a vibrant space that seems to be gaining momentum increasingly, has been crucial.
Artists in the gallery’s stable employ traditional media, such as metal, precious, and semi-precious stones, alongside a wide range of unconventional materials that some would still consider foreign to standard perceptions of the art of jewelry making: materials such as paper or plastic, transformed by the artist’s creative vision into singular art objects. Contemporary art jewelry then, whether a point of departure for the gallery’s activities, or the focus par excellence of its concerns, sets the tone for an exhibition program that is equally pluralistic, clearly interdisciplinary, illustrating a rich variety of expressive means, and bringing together under one roof an array of visual art forms (from painting and sculpture, to video art and installation).
At the same time, this philosophy that envisions art’s infiltration into everyday life, and calls for the latter to be conquered, as it were, by means of beauty, to be impregnated with new and radical meanings, to be embellished and be made wealthier for being more diverse, is also suggested in a series of products of rare utilitarian and aesthetic value available at the gallery, such as the exquisite skincare products, soaps, and unguents of the Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella , one of the world’s oldest pharmacies, established in Florence in 1612, the Anassa range of Greek infusions, winner of many international accolades, or the tenderly imaginative lines of products for babies and toddlers designed by Greek and international artists.
The Greek contemporary jewelry scene is a bustling network within which El. Marneri Galerie has long been one of the most active, well-established nodes. Recent additions to its program, a series of art history seminars, seem to be a necessary upshot of that role: the gallery now aspires to create a structure to further strengthen ties within that community of which itself is a part, one that will provide both a context and support mechanism for its creative endeavors, and help it to better manage its energy by making its access to theoretical and practical insights more systematic.