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Dialogues on Vanitas

Transience and Reverie on Contemporary Italian Jewelry

53 East 10th Street

November 18 – 23, 2019

Dialogues on Vanitas: Transience and Reverie on Contemporary Italian Jewelry
Lilla Tabasso
Lilla Tabasso
Antonia Miletto E Lilla Tabasso
Antonia Miletto E Lilla Tabasso
Barbara Paganin
Barbara Paganin
Lavinia Rossetti
Lavinia Rossetti
Paolo Marcolongo
Paolo Marcolongo

Press Release

For New York City Jewelry Week, Adornment is pleased to present Dialogues on Vanitas, an exhibition on contemporary Italian jewelry that includes some of the most important artists in the sector. The exhibition will be held at Maison Gerard from November 19th until November 23rd.

A reception will be held at 53 East 10th Street on Thursday, November 21st from 5-7pm.

Vanitas, in painting, is a still life with symbolic elements alluding to the theme of the transience of life. The name derives from the biblical phrase vanitas vanitatum et omnia vanitas, (vanity of vanities, all is vanity) and, just like a memento mori, is a warning about the ephemeral condition of existence. This pictorial genre had its greatest development in the seventeenth century, closely related to the sense of precariousness that affected the European continent following the Thirty Years War and the widespread epidemics of the plague.

The exhibition takes up this specific meaning and stages the contributions, at the same time soulful and engaging, of artists such as Barbara Paganin, Paolo Marcolongo, Lavinia Rossetti and Lilla Tabasso. The exhibition will also feature a four hands special series made by Lilla Tabasso and Antonia Miletto, realized as part of the major collaboration project called Sympathy and just presented in Venice on the occasion of The Venice Glass Week.

The languages, particular to each of them, mix up to create a choral set of narratives around themes such as the passage of time, the dynamics of remembering and of memory, the transience of life and the symbolism of dreams.

From the poignant beauty of the tumbling flowers of Lilla Tabasso, characterized by hyperrealism and extreme naturalism, to the fantastic compositions of fragments of memory by Barbara Paganin, passing through the poetic correspondence amongst objects, memories and feelings characteristic of the Madeleine series by Lavinia Rossetti, to finish with the more abstract, conceptual and minimal works of Paolo Marcolongo, a process of progressive emotional and psychological rarefaction is produced.

Intimate expressions of personal and unique experiences, the jewels open up visual scenarios that go well beyond adornment, transporting to fantastic and unconscious dimensions. These jewels are soulful on the one hand, narrative on the other. They reveal correspondences, recount the past and offer themselves as a gift to those who are united in a symbolic relationship.

In addition, the exhibition is also intended to express the value and high quality of execution belonging to the Italian artistic and craft tradition, expressed through contemporary jewelry.

The Works

The series Memoria Aperta (Open Memory) by Barbara Paganin is perhaps one of the most studied, admired and observed works in the history of contemporary jewellery. The narrative richness and poetic density condensed in these creations make it difficult to give a quick description. Barbara has created a multi-faceted exercise, which ascribes to the object the evocative capacity of memory, both individual and collective. Memory is open because it is shared, because the objects, photos, all the elements combined within these small frames of memories, tell a story that is ours, the story of each one of us. The suggestive power of memory is symbolically guided by the presence of small recurrent objects, such as the shoe, the cabbage, mice, various pets, photographs, which tell of intimate family scenes, habits, perfumes, childhood rituals, and of suspended time.

In the latest and unpublished works, Paolo Marcolongo further refines the complex relationship between metals and glass developed in both the construction of the pieces and in the aesthetic results. Workmanship techniques belonging to the glassmaking tradition and the goldsmith's art are combined in order to achieve unique and incredible results, in an ancestral, mythological, almost archetypal dialogue between color, transparency, weight and form. Nature blossoms in both its sensuality and danger, on the one hand expressed by precious metals which are at times stinging, sharp, edgy, thorny, on the other in the feminine voluptuousness of the softness of glass that explodes in a tormenting struggle for freedom.

The Madeleine series by Lavinia Rossetti pays tribute to the typical French desserts that introduce the theme of involuntary memory in Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time. In this work Lavinia addresses the difficult theme of recollection and the dynamics of memory, between the past, where memory resides, the present, where memory manifests itself, and emotion, where memory takes form.

A set of necklaces and brooches made from pieces of wood, the material chosen for this series of works,  which,  in  its  designs,  guards  memory,  marks  time and preserves  its  passage.

In a formal sense, the complementary connection between the oval of the jewel and the box that contains it, tells with perfect immediacy that spontaneous and natural moment of the emergence of recollection, like a distant perfume, a nuanced correspondence, the union between memory and reality.

The artistic experimentation of Lilla Tabasso focuses on a passion for nature combined with the great technical ability of working with glass, both blown and modelled “a lume.” Her work is not only characterised by an extremely rare, perfect and impeccable formal execution, but is also measured by the impossible and romantic task of representing the passing of time, the fading life, the falling petal, the withering body. Delineating the supreme beauty of that moment, impossible to grasp, in which it finds itself at its maximum expression only to then slowly fade away. Hyperrealistic and conceptual art, Lilla’s flowers possess an incredible variety of shades, colours, mutations and imperfections.

In the four-handed work created with Antonia Miletto, and recently presented in Venice on the occasion of The Venice Glass Week, Lilla Tabasso measures up to a new challenge in the relationship between glass, wood and precious materials. In the three small masterpieces - Rosa Canina, Violette and Mughetto (Dog Rose, Violets, and Lily of the Valley) - united under the name of Sympathy by virtue of the unprecedented collaboration, Antonia and Lilla have combined their two personal creative approaches and specific aesthetic sensibilities to achieve creations of a poignant beauty. The delicacy of the glass flowers is enhanced by precious stones such as diamonds, emeralds and sapphires. The elegant wooden structure, complemented by a thin gold grille, protects the glass as if in a small symbolic cage, in an impossible attempt to hold back the ephemeral beauty of life and suspend the passage of time

For Information:

Ilaria Ruggiero Founder and Curator A/dornment

Curating Contemporary Art Jewelry Ph. +39 347 93 96 300


Barbara Paganin 

A Venetian artist, Barbara Paganin (b. 1961) studied metals and jewelry at the Istituto Statale d’Arte in Venice and sculpture at the Accademia di Belle Arti of Venice. She worked for about a year in the technical department of Venini and then began teaching professional design in 1987 at the Istituto Statale d’Arte Pietro Selvatico in Padua. For over 25 years, she has regularly exhibited in galleries in Europe (for example in London, Vienna, Munich, Göteborg and Paris) and in New York. Her works are in the permanent collections of many museums. Among these: the V&A in London, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Museo d’Arte Moderna di Ca’ Pesaro in Venice, the Musée des Beaux Arts in Montreal, the LACMA in Los Angeles.

Paolo Marcolongo was born in Padua in 1956, he attended the Art High School "Pietro Selvatico", and then he studied sculpture at Accademia di Belle Arti of Venice. From 1984 to 1996 he taught Plastic Arts at "Pietro Selvatico" school, and since 1996 until 2019 he taught the same subject at Padua Art State School "Amedeo Modigliani". From 1998 to 2005 he was the curator of the "Marcolongo Gallery" of Applied Arts in Padua. Since then he worked as both curator and artists by curating several exhibitions and attending many international solo and collective shows. On 2015 he received the Bayerischer Staatspreis in Munich.

Lavinia Rossetti is an Italian born, Belgium based contemporary jewellery maker, currently researching at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Antwerp (Body & Material Reinvented group) where she investigates the performative role of jewellery using an interdisciplinary and experimental approach. She taught at Alchimia Jewellery School while combining travels to Asia for collaborations and workshops in Shanghai (Academy of International Visual Arts, Shanghai Institute of Visual Art, SanW Gallery/Studio). She currently travels to Milan where collaborates with IED (European Institute of Design). Her work has been represented by Caroline Van Hoek (Bruxelles) and more recently by Antonella Villanova (Florence) and shown in international exhibitions and design fairs.

Lilla Tabasso

Lilla Tabasso (Milano, 1973), biologist and designer, was born in Milan where she still lives and works. Following her studies at the Faculty of Biology at the University in Milan, she began working with Murano glass using the ancient techniques of blowing and modeling at the flame. Among her most important exhibitions: Manualmente: il Vetro, Villa Necchi, Milan, 2014; Glass, Villa Vescovi di Luvignano, 2016; Glasslifeforms, Pittsburg; 2016; Murano oggi. Emozioni di vetro, Museo del Vetro di Murano, 2016-2017; The Venice Glass Week – Bauer Hotel, Venezia, 2017, 2018, 2019, Homo Faber, Venice 2018, and she received the Talent du Lux et de la Creativité on 2019.

Antonia Miletto is an Italian jewelry designer who has enjoyed an extraordinary 30 years career spent between the very best of two worlds, Venice and New York City. Forever in search of exciting new elements that inspire her imagination, she creates pieces incorporating unusual gemstones, exotic woods, resin, and other unexpected and rare materials. This tireless quest for the exceptional has yielded gorgeous and complex one-of-a-kind jewels that gracefully marry the precious with the non- precious. In 2007 Antonia opened her orange jewel box store, a boutique that serves a clientele as international and stylish as she.

About Us:


A/dornment - Curating Contemporary Art Jewelry is a curatorial integrated project dedicated to contemporary  art  jewelry.  It  relies  on  the  professionalism  of  a  composite  team coming  from contemporary art and design. It aims to develop the knowledge and consciousness of contemporary jewelry as artistic discipline as well as ground search for technique, aesthetics and philosophy.



New York City Jewelry Week, held from November 18-24, is the first and only local week dedicated to promoting and celebrating the world of jewelry. NYCJW provides access to the multifaceted jewelry industry through ground-breaking exhibitions, panel discussions led by industry experts, exclusive workshop visits, heritage-house tours, innovative retail collaborations, and other unforgettable one-of-a-kind programming created by the best and brightest in the industry. This year NYCJW will include over 130 events taking place in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Visit the website for the full schedule:


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