Born in Jerusalem, the internationally famend jewellery maker and artist Attai Chen obtained his undergraduate diploma from the Belazel Academy of Artwork and Design. After graduating, he moved to Munich, the place he studied underneath Otto Künzli on the Academy of Positive Arts. Chen obtained quite a few awards together with the Herbert Hofmann Prize (2011), the Oberbayerischer Prize for Utilized Arts (2012), and the Andrea M. Bronfman Prize for the Arts (2014). His jewellery might be discovered in lots of museum and personal collections worldwide. Chen is survived by his accomplice of 15 years, Carina Shoshtary, in addition to his mom, father, stepfather, and two sisters. AJF provides its honest condolences to all who knew him. The jewellery subject has misplaced a unprecedented expertise.
AJF welcomes extra remembrances from the group. Please submit yours here; this web page will regularly be up to date as we obtain remembrances.
I’m so proud and so grateful to have identified Attai Chen—grateful to have had the chance to collaborate with him, to do initiatives, to take part within the evolution of his work.
Pars professional Toto was the title of the nice exhibition I had the pleasure of internet hosting. An element for the entire. An element to symbolize the entire. When an element can not symbolize the entire, we lose the chance of a selected and treasured standpoint.
When that lacking half is an artist, then we not solely lose the person, we lose a suggestion, an opportunity to know via his artwork the complexity of the entire. Thanks to Attai Chen for his suggestion, for his treasured standpoint. I’ll bear in mind his stunning work and his kindness.
—Antonella Villanova. Villanova’s eponymous gallery is situated in Florence, Italy. Pars pro Toto, Chen’s solo exhibition there, came about October 16, 2021–January 22, 2022.
Fragile and on the similar time ductile, perishable but immortal, paper was the principle medium utilized by Attai Chen in his inventive apply, which was based mostly on a meticulous and tireless strategy of portray, chopping, assembling: cyclical gestures religiously perpetuated as a type of mantra, as a type of secular prayer from which a brand new imaginative and prescient recurrently blossoms.
An instinctive imaginative stream guided him within the creation of weightless, colourful, and dynamic excessive reliefs in addition to micro wearable sculptural wonders, each pervaded by a way of nice exuberance but dignified composure, and by a timeless poetic.
In Attai’s palms, paper additionally turned a method to represent the cyclicality of life and of creation: the beginning, the expansion, the progressive decay, the transformation, and at last, in germ, the place to begin for a brand new starting.
Right this moment, I wish to glimpse this second as the start of a brand new everlasting spring for Attai and for his exploration into the thriller of creativeness, which he so discreetly investigated and respectfully managed to know. He provides us the legacy of his so delicate and but so smart strategy to artwork and existence, looking for the enchantment in simplicity, the consistence in lightness, the “pleasure in labor,” the liberty in data.
Blossom by blossom the spring begins. (Algernon Charles Swinburne, “Atalanta in Calydon”)
Attai’s artwork will proceed to blossom (and to bless us) over right here, over there, over time.
With respect and gratitude,
—Emanuela Nobile Mino. Nobile Mino is a professor of design historical past at College La Sapienza, Rome, and a deeply revered curator for up to date artwork and design. She curated Pars professional Toto, Chen’s solo exhibition at Galleria Antonella Villanova.
The jewellery group has misplaced an distinctive human being and an artist of nice originality and accomplishment.
Attai Chen was a sabra, or native Israeli, born in Jerusalem in 1979. His work was molded by his research at Jerusalem’s Bezalel Academy of Artwork and Design and on the Academy of Positive Arts in Munich, underneath Otto Künzli. In 2007, Attai started residing and dealing in Munich however maintained shut ties along with his household and his nation.
His work typically handled Israel’s enduring conflicts whereas rejecting a polemical/one-sided view in favor of a clear-eyed sense of justice and morality. He launched Israeli-Palestinian tensions into his work in 2008 when he carved a brooch depicting the Israel Protection Forces’s D9 armored bulldozer, which is used to clear mines. His use of olive wooden might be interpreted as a plea for peace, a commentary on the difficult use of the D9, which was additionally used to demolish the homes of Palestinians and needed terrorists. The conflict of cultures was additionally represented in his Kalashnikov Pendant (2008), during which entangled patterns shaped by miniature rifles create an unresolved message, reflecting the complexity of the connection.
I first met Attai in Munich in 2010, when he received the distinguished Herbert Hofmann Prize at Schmuck with a masterful necklace of recycled paper that’s now a part of the Susan Grant Lewin Assortment on the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, in New York. The work represented the recycling theme that seems repeatedly in Chen’s work, during which new life emerges from decay.
Whereas I used to be residing in Israel a couple of years later, I knew that I needed to embody Attai in a mission centered on Israel’s up to date jewellery artists and their deeply felt political, social, and particular person convictions. I selected his 2015 brooch during which an deliberately romanticized view of Arab villages clinging to the hillsides round Jericho belies the hidden hardships that had been the on a regular basis actuality.
In Attai Chen, a wealthy and compassionate imaginative and prescient has been misplaced. We are able to treasure the good sculptures and jewellery objects he produced, however solely remorse what instructions his ingenious thoughts may need explored.
—Ursula Ilse-Neuman. Ilse-Neuman is curator emerita on the Museum of Arts and Design, New York, the place, as curator from 1992–2015, she organized greater than 40 exhibitions in all media.
My first encounter with Attai Chen had a providential high quality. It was 2014, and I used to be in Israel, my first time within the nation. Attai by then was residing in Munich, however had simply received the Andy Prize for Modern Artwork, supplied by the Tel Aviv Museum of Artwork. It simply so occurred that his opening coincided with my go to. Think about my shock after I walked into one of the spectacular up to date jewellery exhibitions I had ever seen, with customized casework setting off every delicate, charismatic creation, a subject of secular reliquaries. I used to be additionally in a position to meet Attai in particular person, and was instantly taken by his considerate, quiet depth. Right here, clearly, was a pure artist who had discovered his medium—and was reimagining it.
That surprising present stored on giving within the decade since. In collaboration with Gallery Loupe, I had the chance to interact in a long-running dialog with Attai, a kind of wealthy and sustaining dialogues that critics dwell for. We talked about many issues: the best way that perspective orders (and restricts) composition; the porous membrane between detritus and the Duchampian discovered object; theatricality, each within the sense of a proscenium stage and a psychological mindset; the unusual means that fragility can summon a way of imposing energy. For me, it was an alternate shot via with magical perception, similar to his work.
Attai’s passing, tragically younger, represents an incalculable loss for the jewellery group. All of a sudden, what all of us thought was his early work is all there’ll ever be. We are able to’t assist however surprise, in such a second, about what wonders he would have gone on to create. Nor can we assist however really feel, deeply, the lack of such a ravishing soul. On the similar time, we are able to be glad about the small miracles he wrought. I hope all who learn this set of remembrances of Attai will take a second to carry one in every of his items, within the hand or within the thoughts, and say a quiet farewell—and thanks.
—Glenn Adamson. Adamson is a curator and author who works on the intersection of craft, design historical past, and up to date artwork. He has beforehand served as director of the Museum of Arts and Design; head of analysis on the V&A; and curator on the Chipstone Basis in Milwaukee.
I used to be launched to Attai Chen by his instructor and mentor, Israeli artist Vered Kaminski, who knew him as a scholar at Bezalel Academy of Artwork and Design, Jerusalem. She advised me that I needed to meet Attai as a result of his work was so spectacular. On the time, Attai was a younger and promising artist residing in Germany and finding out on the Academy of Positive Arts, Munich. In March of 2010, we met for drinks throughout Schmuck, on the Worldwide Commerce Truthful in Munich. I used to be instantly drawn to his work, seduced by the colours, materiality, and fabrication. I couldn’t wait to symbolize Attai, and he very quickly turned an integral a part of Gallery Loupe.
Through the years there have been a number of solo exhibitions, festivals, and artist talks. His work resonated deeply with all who had the privilege of experiencing it. Attai’s items are intricate narratives that intertwine colours, kinds, and a novel sense of individuality. Every time we introduced a brand new exhibition of his work, there was pleasure. Attai’s items had the power to captivate and have interaction, at all times sparking conversations and feelings. His expertise was distinctive and his dedication to his craft was unyielding.
Personally, Attai was rather more than an artist to me. He was a pricey buddy. I are likely to ask a number of questions, and Attai was at all times comfortable to speak about his work; we had been by no means at a loss for dialog. Through the years, this led to an in depth private bond. One particularly fond reminiscence is of Schmuck 2019, when Attai and I visited galleries and pop-ups collectively throughout Munich for a complete week, hoping to discover a venue for a future group exhibition that includes Attai, Kiff Slemmons, and Thomas Gentille. Little did we all know that COVID would change all the things, together with the chance to current exhibitions for the following few years.
A life reduce brief is tragic. There was nonetheless a lot extra to come back for Attai: a brand new physique of labor featured in a solo exhibition at Gallery Loupe; a monograph printed by Arnoldsche Artwork Publishers, Stuttgart, with an essay by Glenn Adamson; and past that we’ll by no means know. As I mirror on Attai’s life and work, I’m reminded of the vibrancy and vitality he delivered to the gallery. The void left by his departure is palpable—however whereas he could not be with us in particular person, his work will proceed to encourage, intrigue, and provoke thought, guaranteeing that his legacy endures.
—Patti Bleicher. Bleicher co-founded Gallery Loupe in 2006. The gallery, which focuses on up to date artwork jewellery, is situated in Montclair, NJ, US.
Folks would generally confuse me and Attai. We’d be standing proper subsequent to one another, dressed otherwise, beards groomed at completely different lengths, however nonetheless they’d battle to distinguish between us. One time it was one in every of his gallerists as I stood in Attai’s present in Munich. He couldn’t perceive why I used to be refusing to talk to him in German. One other time it was throughout a five-minute alternate with somebody who didn’t even appear to thoughts that they had been yelling on the fallacious particular person. I’ll miss these mix-ups.
It looks like we hadn’t seen one another in such a very long time. The pandemic was very onerous on many people for various causes. Attai and I had talked about doing a number of issues collectively. I haven’t been to Israel since I used to be 10 or 11 and he thought we should always return for a go to collectively. He actually cherished his time in Greece and needed us to go to with him and Carina the following time they had been there. We additionally each thought Sweden could be a fantastic place to dwell as a result of we each cherished all of the Swedish folks we knew.
When he was in New York or New Jersey he at all times came over me and Erin, and after we had been in Munich a precedence was at all times attending to spend a while with him and Carina. There was one thing very simple about our connection, like a sibling you didn’t know you had—a lot in frequent but additionally a lot to study.
After I first met Attai, I used to be truly very anxious about assembly him. Attai was coming to Brooklyn Metallic Works for the primary time and supplied to show how you can use a mouth blowtorch, a torch that’s romanticized within the US although it’s tremendous sensible in the remainder of the world. I needed all the things to be good and to make impression; we each actually cherished his work. When Attai confirmed up, instantly all my fears dissolved. He was simply so good and easygoing.
He had forgotten his mouthpiece, however a random little little bit of hose I had mendacity across the studio could be good. I wasn’t positive what gasoline fuel he wanted, and he didn’t know the English phrase for it, however he felt that if I assumed propane was proper, he was positive it will be positive. He simply wanted a little bit little bit of silver and a little bit of this and that … and all the things was nice.
From the start, Attai was nothing however heat, pleasant, no ego, no calls for, no speeding, no yelling. He was simply this pretty human who was comfortable to be there with us at our studio. The discuss was nice, the folks had been mesmerized by his demonstration—everybody had so many questions and he was so beneficiant and relaxed and excited to see us all.
And he by no means modified. Each time we noticed one another he by no means modified. He simply cherished spending time with us, he was at all times heat and at all times sort. I’ll nonetheless do most of the issues we deliberate to do collectively. We’ve already been to museums and eating places since he left us. I think about him with me now as a result of I like pondering of his excited responses to the completely different languages and meals in NYC. I get pleasure from enthusiastic about how he would reply to the completely different artwork I see and completely different folks I meet. It brings me a number of happiness to think about how he was and can at all times be, as he travels with me and everybody who had the enjoyment of figuring out him.
—Brian Weissman. Weissman is the co-founder of Brooklyn Metallic Works, a co-working metalsmithing studio, training lab, device store, and exhibition house. He recurrently participates as a juror for exhibitions at varied organizations. He was on the choice committee for 45 Tales in Jewellery, on the Museum of Arts and Design. Weissman can be a working towards artist and metalsmith with works in each private and non-private collections.
The Fowl Who Needed to Be a Cloud
As soon as upon a time there was a girl who broke her arm. She was a goldsmith, and so obsessed with making jewellery that she simply couldn’t and wouldn’t cease. Nevertheless, working along with her left hand proved to be no simple process, as a result of it was her good proper hand that was not any use. For all that, Barbara, as she was known as, was usually in a position to wrest one thing good even out of probably the most determined conditions in life. She determined to rise to the problem and discover methods of quickly coping utilizing solely her left hand. The primary steps are at all times the toughest and awkward, however Barbara was so eager to share the delight she derived from her new experiences with pals and workshop colleagues that she badgered them into collaborating in a joint experiment and voluntarily forgoing using their good hand. The enterprise for the right-handed contributors was known as “Nur mit Hyperlinks (Left Hand Solely),” and for the left-handed members, “Nur mit Rechts (Proper Hand Solely)”!
One of many contributors on this experiment was the left-handed designer Attai Chen. He fixed a sheet of cardboard onto his workbench, took a pointy knife in his proper hand, and reduce an obtuse angle into the cardboard. The cardboard stood up barely alongside the leading edge, shaped a pointy edge, a ridge. At exact intervals Attai proceeded to make a sequence of cuts one after one other, all just about parallel, and noticed what occurred. He different the depth of the cuts, the angle, the route, and the size. He made brief, scale-like cuts, used the cutter to create straight, lengthy radial strains resembling followers within the cardboard, but additionally disorderly, seemingly random cuts. Although initially stiff, the cardboard now turned versatile, may very well be bent, arched, and twisted. The cuts gaped open, the cardboard confirmed its wounds. With the intention to emphasize the distinction between the outer “pores and skin” and the notches he had added, Attai utilized colour to the floor of the cardboard, and painted and wrote on it earlier than he let the metal glide via the cardboard, creating an interaction between inside and exterior. A flat floor was remodeled right into a three-dimensional physique and was reincarnated as undulating, intertwined, rhythmically structured elements reduce and formed in several methods to create an limitless number of compositions. In the middle of the work course of, Attai found a brand new formal language, a brand new, advanced vocabulary with an infinite variety of doable mixtures. Managed variations, particular repetitions, deliberate expansions had been continually added. And his left hand had already lengthy since turn into concerned. The experiment had served its objective—”Nur mit Rechts (Proper Hand Solely)” was over.
Munich, summer time 2013. The sky is blue. Particular person white cumulus clouds are gathering on the horizon. Folks snigger within the sunshine, fill their lungs with heat air and its heavy scents. I’m additionally in temper. Down within the deepest basement of the Pinakothek der Moderne, the so-called Danner Rotunde, I’m lacking out on the summer time. But my mission makes this loss worthwhile. I’ve the nice process of arranging the everlasting presentation of the jewellery collections of Die Neue Sammlung, The Worldwide Design Museum Munich, and the Danner Basis. When all the things is claimed and accomplished, some 296 jewellery objects by 139 artists from 26 international locations will probably be showcased in 35 show cupboards. The best of all the things.
Attai has works on present. In a slender wall cupboard that extends from the ground to the ceiling, I had two of his cardboard works mounted at eye degree towards a shimmering background of grey silk. Throughout my descents into the catacombs of the museum I encounter them a number of occasions a day, at occasions solely fleetingly, barely lingering, as there may be nonetheless a lot to do. Nevertheless, typically I do cease, take yet one more shut take a look at the 2 brooches. They usually by no means stop to fascinate me. I need to write about them, solely about them.
Nicely, I might ask Attai what his intention was along with his works, what he needed to specific, I might let him clarify his work to me. Then once more, would that not be tantamount to mistrusting his inventive expression, his visible energy? Or put otherwise, would it not not additionally quantity to failing to rely by myself notion, my integrity and private expertise? So as a substitute I’ll endeavor to achieve my insights via merely observing.
The Free Radicals, from 2011, is a brooch the scale of a kid’s hand. The composition consists of a relatively amorphous, cloud-like core surrounded by a wreath of diverging beams. As in an explosion, feathery bundles escape of the thunder subject on the heart. Flashes of lightning emerge from the smoke. Mighty forces are at work; there may be seething, hissing, and crashing. You’re feeling tempted to hunt cowl however can’t bear to show away from the sight of the disaster, as a result of it’s so stunning. The colours are concurrently vivid and darkish. Graphite, galena, metal blue, sulfurous yellow, mustard, purple, the inexperienced of beetle wings, russet, and dusky pink. The darkish sharp strains of the cardboard assist reduce via the pores and skin of the person kinds. The apocalyptic firework shines with a metallic gloss, a show of useless splendor. New photos spring to thoughts. Does this show herald the phoenix brightly rising from the ashes? Are we seeing the wild contortions of courting birds of paradise? Are these shimmering feathers, an impressive rosette, or warfare colours? Is the world exploding into items, or is it maybe an imploding star?
Forgive Me Father for I Have Sinned, from 2012, hovers like a cloud (within the aforementioned showcase) above The Free Radicals. It’s a quiet however in no way delicate work. The cuts at the hours of darkness yellow cardboard are highly effective and deep. The sharp distinction between the painted white floor and the wood-colored cardboard, which is accentuated by the black marks on the pores and skin, recall to mind the bark of a birch tree. The traces of graphite point out that earlier than the fabric was distorted it had a drawing on writing on it. If it had been a crumpled piece of paper (one other picture that involves thoughts) we might easy it out and restore it to its unique state. You may speculate additional on the premise of the title, which by the way is borrowed from Damien Hirst, however I’ll resist from doing so. The work speaks for itself. Solely at first look do the white colour and cloudlike form confer a way of peace. That is neither a cotton ball nor a falling downy feather. For all its attractiveness there’s something darkish and oppressive about this tangled ball, this cracked bark. It’s an impenetrable agglomerate, a rampant type of development, fascinating, alluring and threatening. I see a battle, ache, and desperation. And from deep inside a heat mild emerges. This object is unhappy, sturdy, and delightful.
—Otto Künzli, January 2014
Attai, everytime you laughed and your eyes shone, your friendliness and cheerfulness enveloped us and made us really feel heat. That is precisely how we are going to bear in mind you.
—Otto Künzli, August 2023, translation by Jeremy Gaines. Künzli is without doubt one of the most famed jewelers working right this moment. Swiss-trained and Munich-based, his iconic works embody Gold Macht Blind (Gold Makes You Blind) (1980) and 1cm of Love (1995). As director of the jewellery division at Munich’s Akademie der Bildenden Künste between 1991 and 2014, he taught many distinguished up to date makers, together with Chen.
Attai was one of the brillant artists I’ve ever had the chance to fulfill. His mild will at all times shine in our reminiscences and moments shared collectively.
—Paulo Ribeiro. Ribeiro is an architect, a jewellery and artwork collector, and the director of Contemporania.
A choice of collections that maintain Chen’s work
Alice and Louis Koch Assortment of Rings, Swiss Nationwide Museum, Zurich
Arkansas Museum of Positive Arts (previously Arkansas Arts Middle), Little Rock, AR, United States
CODA Museum, Apeldoorn, Netherlands
The Donna Schneier Assortment, Metropolitan Museum of Artwork, New York
Helen Drutt Assortment, Philadelphia
Museum of Positive Artwork, Houston, Texas, United States
Museum of Arts and Design, New York
Worldwide Design Museum, Munich
Israeli Museum of Artwork, Jerusalem
Schmuckmuseum Pforzheim, Germany
Rotasa Assortment Belief, California
Sanford and Susan Kempin Assortment, New York
Susan Grant Lewin Assortment, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, New York
Tel Aviv Museum of Artwork