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Gagosian Gallery Paris Presents an Exhibition of Unique Precious Objects by Victoire de Castellane
Quo Cainus Magic Disco, 2010. White gold, lacquered silver, diamonds, smoky quartz. Dimensions: Entire work: L 13 x H 15 cm. Bracelet J 8.6 x H 8.6.

PARIS.- Gagosian Gallery Paris presents an exhibition of unique precious objects by Victoire de Castellane. The exhibition is on view from March 2 through 22, 2011.

I start with a story, a world, never with the material. I find my stories in everything I observe and experience -- rebellion, love, sexuality, pleasure, violence, protection, psychoanalysis, and my taste for fairy tales…
--Victoire de Castellane

De Castellane’s highly original collections for Dior have redefined and revivified haute joaillerie for a new generation. With Fleurs d’excès, she has gone further to create ten works that recall the jeweled obsessions of times past, such as the mechanical nightingale of Hans Christian Andersen’s children’s tale, Fabergé eggs, and the fabulous “bestiaries” of animals real and mythic. De Castellane’s intricately made hybrids each contain a wearable element, becoming “jewelry at rest, waiting to be worn.”

Indifferent to convention though passionate about history and technical challenge, de Castellane’s ideas are driven by an exuberant imagination, deriving from sources as diverse as the élan vital of the natural world and the synthetic wonders of Technicolor; the Brothers Grimm and Walt Disney; voluptuous Hollywood screen idols and manga characters; the trash and fizz of pop culture and the darkest depths of the subconscious. The astonishing results blur the distinctions between the real and the artificial, the beautiful and the grotesque, the subtle and the excessively baroque. Provocative in form and content, de Castellane has created perverse treasures for the times in which we live.

Hallucinatory drugs and their promise of mind-expansion have fascinated and inspired artists the world over. De Castellane’s flowers are intoxicating, but also dangerous because of the poisons that they secrete. Here they personify the Romantic idea of women “under the influence” in a compendium of phantasmagorical specimens with faux-classificatory names, such as Heroïna Romanticam Dolorosa and Crystalucinae Metha Agressiva.

De Castellane uses materials like no one before her, choosing precious stones for their unorthodox beauty and form, as well as how they relate to specific narratives. She prefers them rough or free-shaped, as they occur in nature. Mountings cast in solid silver, according to classical tradition, are disguised using a lacquering technique that renders them in alien hues and textures, from shiny opaque pink, like plastic or bubblegum (Acidae Lili Pervertus) to iridescent green-gold that evokes the shimmering depths of a beetle’s wing (Cana Bisextem Now), to dense matte scarlet, like powdered pigment (Opiom Velourosa Purpra). Finally, strikingly patterned and mottled hard stones like jasper, rhyolite, agate, petrified wood, and chalcopyrite are sculpted into solid bases or hollow containers to underscore the nature of the object that each supports.

Victoire de Castellane lives and works in Paris. Essentially self-taught -- she attempted to make her first piece of jewelry at the age of five -- she designed costume jewelry for Chanel for fourteen years. In 1998 she joined Dior as the first Creative Director of their new jewelry department, a role she continues to this day. Her first exhibition “Belladone Island” took place in Monet’s Waterlily room at L’Orangerie, Paris in 2007.

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