“The Italian artist jeweller Gigi Mariani is known and renowned for his poetic and pictorial accuracy in the use of the niello technique. His vibrating, light and mesmerizing traces on the surface of his pieces are a pictorial sign that became, over the years, the signature of an entire oeuvre”.
Gigi Mariani is a jeweller artist whose body of works is mainly known for his “painterly” use of niello. This metallic alloy -used for centuries by goldsmiths- reached in Mariani’s works a new degree of research and application. Pushing the effects and the nature of niello to their limits, this ancient technique provided the artist with a new field of research and inventiveness. Over the years, a dense, thick black surface became the signature of his body of works and the surfaces were worked in a pictorial way. Some of them were broken by cracks; some were suffering from scars and holes, and on other ones, ancestral traces emerged from the black matter.
Together with niello, the use of gold has always been the ideal counterpoint to the dense, thick consistency of the black matter. Gold, as well as scratches and wounds, surfaced through sparkles or portions on the pieces giving to Mariani’s body of work his individual and distinguished cifra stilistica.
Over the years, with the size of his works reduced, gold emerged consistently in accordance with a principle of reduction: where -at the beginning- the light was modulated over the matter of niello or enamel, now new glares shimmer on the gold surfaces. Thus, on the clean perimeter of the pieces, tiny, mobile elements enrich the surfaces and light plays with sophisticated volumes and movements.
Born in Modena (Italy) in 1957, Gigi Mariani opened his own studio in 1985 after a two-year apprenticeship in a goldsmith’s workshop. Since 2009 he attended several seminar workshops on goldsmith’s techniques and from 2012 onward his presence in the field of contemporary jewellery counted several exhibitions and awards. The dense consistency of his black surfaces as well as his “painterly style” reached attention at international fairs and exhibitions. His works are represented by several art jewellery galleries in Europe and America. He lives and works in Modena.
Nichka Marobin, art historian and curator
 Nichka Marobin, “MELENCOLIA or The Saturnine nature of the Artist”, exhibition catalogue, Barcelona, Hannah Gallery 21 Sept – 04 Nov 2022, Klimt02 Publications, 2022.
I have always been fascinated by the infinite potential that metals offer and the opportunity of transforming their original properties and aspect in order to stretch the scope of what can be achieved.
I avail myself of antique goldsmith techniques that have almost fallen into disuse, such as niello and granulation, personalizing them in order to give my work a distinctive character. I work with precious metals, combining them with other metals such as iron, copper and brass.
I apply niello to the surface of the metal so that it is completely covered. In this way, the preciousness of the metal disappears leaving way to a dark, rough surface. Through the use of heat, I achieve cracks and clots resulting in surfaces that seem battered and ill-treated, resembling ancient relics.
My work is based on spontaneity and instinct. I try to transfer everyday emotions into my jewellery in an impulsive way. This method allows me to develop works that are unique and sculptural. I endeavor to use the same sort of approach as I do when painting and often treat the surface of the metal as a canvas. This instinctive approach is counteracted by the precise, geometric forms that I use, whereby everything seems to be brought back into place.
Il mio lavoro si può suddividere in due momenti, uno progettuale e quindi una base di lavoro classica, dove sono presenti alcuni aspetti ricorrenti nel lavoro di oreficeria, come la costruzione con lastre quindi la saldatura, le cerniere e le chiusure a scatto. Un lavoro lento e pensato tipico dei lavori dell’oreficeria. E una seconda parte, quella più informale, che dà spessore all’oggetto e lo caratterizza, utilizzando antiche tecniche come l’applicazione in modo materico del Niello o la Granulazione oppure le ossidazioni. Queste texture nascondono la preziosità del gioiello (preziosità perché io solitamente utilizzo metalli preziosi). Diciamo che la base, ossia il gioiello, la utilizzo come un pittore utilizza la tela per esprimere propri concetti ed emozioni.
Negli anni ho coltivato la passione per la pittura, informale segnica, materica, dove il colore o un segno rappresentano un’emozione o particolare stato d’animo. Ecco cercavo qualcosa di analogo anche in oreficeria e l’ho trovato utilizzando le tecniche del Niello, la Granulazione o le ossidazioni in modo pittorico, informale. Un utilizzo che cambia l’aspetto dei gioielli e li rende unici. Quindi un aspetto tecnico e un aspetto artistico, un mix che credo possa rendere riconoscibili i miei pezzi. Alla fine saranno pezzi unici, perché, anche se ripetibili, essendo costruiti tutti a mano non saranno mai uguali uno all’altro, a causa di piccole differenze di rifinitura e per l’uso del Niello, pensato in questo caso come colore e dal risultato finale sempre differente.
1983 Apprenticeship by a Goldsmith ‘s laboratory
1985 Opened his own studio in Modena
2001/02 Seminar on diamond grading, Chamber of Commerce – Modena
2001 Since 2001 collaboration with the Archaeological Museum –Modena
2009 Workshop with Graziano Visintin e MariaRosa Franzin | Enrolment AGC| Co- founder Artifizio group
2011 Granulation Workshop with G.Corvaja, Alchimia, Florence | Member Klimt02 | Member Crafthaus | Workshop mokume gane with G.Corvaja, Todi italia
2012 Curator with H.Herb – International jewelry Competition “……vices or lifestyle” | Member of Gesellschaft fur Goldschmiedekunst, Hanau, Germany
2013 Vice Chairman AGC Italy (Association Contemporary jewelry)
2020 Selected for the Herbert Hofmann 2021 Award, Schmuch 2021 (Munich)
2015 Guest Artist for 2015 Edition of Joya art Jewellery Fair /Alliages Choise – The legacy award
2014 First Prize Joya 2014, Barcelona, Spain || Selected for the Herbert Hofmann 2015 Award, Schmuck 2015 (Munich)
2013 First prize Cominelli Foundation 2013 Award
2012 Premi Joid’art, Enjoia’t 2012, Barcellona
2011 Exhibition Gioielli in fermento, Torre Fornello (PC) / | First prize ONOFF Spazio Aperto Award 150°, Padua, Italy
Museo degli Argenti, Florence, Italy
Cominelli Foundation, Salò, Italy
Helen Drutt Collection, USA
Museo Civico di Modena, Modena, Italy
Espace Solidor, Alliages Legacy Collection, Cagnes-sur-Mer, Francia
2016 Like a rolling stones – workshop, Edinburgh College of Art, Scotland
2016 3 Italian Jewellers talks at Eca, Edinburgh College of Art, Scotland
2016 Creo – Dipartimento Scienze Chimiche e Geologiche, Unimore, Italy
2018 New Brooches, 400+contemporary jewellery design, N.Estrada
2018 Gioielli in fermento, Castel San Giovanni (PC) Italy
2017 The Alchemical Egg , Hannah gallery Barcelona
2014 Contemporay Jewelry Design
2014 Gigi Mariani Catalogue – Emotions in Matter
2014 Catalogue Le Bijou mis a prix – A U DA P & M I R A B A U D, Paris, FR
2014 Amber in Contemporary Jeweelery, Riga, LV
2013 Beijing International Jewelry Art Exhibition
2013 Cominelli Award 2013
2012 International Annual of Contemporary jewel art “ Jewel Book 2012/2013
2012 Anuario Yearbook Contemporary Jewellery 2012/2013
2012 Catalogue Amberif Design Award
2017 Gold on the tracks , Galerie Isabella Hund, Monaco di Baviera (D)
2018 Tracce nella Materia, Oratorio San Rocco, Padova (IT)
2018 Solo, Galleria Albert Riedi, Chur, (CH)
2019 Beyond the Black, Hannah Gallery, Barcellona
2020 LET’S PLAY, Galleria Thereza Pedroza – Asolo Italia
2021 Connessioni, 150 anni Museo civico Modena, Modena, Italia
2022 Window, Isabella Hund Gallery, Munich , De
2022 Orizzonti d’Autore , Museo Civico di Asolo , Asolo (TV) Italia
2022 The Truth – MINE AND YOUR , Geological Museum in Ramat Hasharon, Israel
2022 MELENCONIA or The Saturnine Nature of The Artist , Hannah Gallery , Barcellona , Spagna
2022 Gioielli in Fermento , Regione Emilia Romagna, Bologna, Italia
2022 Impressioni, la lastra diventa gioiello, Archivio Negroni, Milano, Italia
2022 Gioiello Devozionale, Oratorio San Rocco , Padova , Italia
2022 Design Miami , Elisabetta Cipriani Gallery , London, UK
Elisabetta Cipriani Gallery, London, UK
Theresa Pedrosa Gallery, Asolo TV, Italy
Archivio Negroni, Milano, Italy
Patina Gallery, Santa Fe, NM – Usa
Gallerie Isabelle Hund, Munich, Germany
Alternatives Gallery, Rome, Italy
Galerie Slavik, Vienna, Austria
Charon Kransen Arts, NY, Usa
Friends of Carlotta, Zurich,CH
Galerie Orfeo, Luxemburg
Hannah Gallery by Klimt02, Barcellona