Visiting Chus Burés' studio is like entering a temple of the best jewellery made in Spain. Between iconic 80s and 90s pieces, abundant books, photos of Alberto García-Alix on white walls and dozens of filing cabinets, you will find pieces of jewellery created side by side with names such as Louise Bourgeois, Santiago Sierra and Carmen Herrera. Here, design is a nod towards art and art is dressed as design.
His connection to art is long-standing. “I have always worked with artists, both with artists' legacies and with contemporary painters”. But he had never considered working with a Prado painting, although he is a frequent visitor. “I generally organise my visits by themes. Most recently I visited the exhibition of Goya drawings, which I saw inseveral visits. I am really interested in the Renaissance, Bosch, Patinir and the pieces of jewellery that appear in the paintings. But they are always just occasional visits, the collection is immense”.
What happens when Chus Burés casts his eye on a work from the Museo del Prado? The idea stems from the fact that it is the bicentenary of the Museo del Prado”, explains Burés. “The choice of the Annunciation by Fra Angelico is also in honour of the wonderful restoration that it has undergone recently. There is nothing better than a piece of jewellery to commemorate such events”.
Chus is referring to one of the main milestones in the recent history of the Museo del Prado: the complex restoration of the Annunciation, carried out with insurmountable expertise in the Museum's workshops. The restoration was focused on recovering the work's rich and vibrant colours, and the intense white light that envelops the scene. Furthermore, as part of the documentation of the work carried out, the Prado team has performed several technical studies, including high resolution photographs, infrared reflectography, X-ray radiography and a full-size 3D scan of the whole work, which is of particular interest in this case due to the artist's excellent surface work.
Specifically, the recovery of the drawing of the Archangel Gabriel's original wing represents, in the words of Almudena Sánchez Martín, who is in charge of the project alongside Gemma García Torres, “one of the restoration's most important moments due to the prominence of this figure and due to the position of the element in the centre of the composition”. The oil retouches from former interventions concealed the original shape of the angel's front wing, transforming it significantly. However, the cleaning and digital reconstruction of each of the lost feathers from the wing have made it possible both to recover its original shape, and also its light, its technical perfection and the elegance of its shapes.
And, on this occasion, it is precisely this detail of the Archangel on which Chus has focused his attention. “We wanted to avoid reproducing the wing as is, because we were looking for something more futuristic... We have to bear in mind that we are talking about the Renaissance, an art style that marks a difference with respect to the previous era.” The bracelet born from this idea represents a wing that wraps around and embraces the wrist, or the neck, or the finger... “This is the first piece from a range of jewellery that is currently under development”, explains the designer.
After selecting the wing as the element on which to base his work, Chus Burés designed the bracelet by hand, after which the piece was reproduced in 3D, enabling the creation of a model that is totally faithful to the design. “I was lucky to have the full-size 3D scan of the painting, by layers, so I could see the entire painting process, something that really helped me to develop the design, besides working with excellent 3D model makers and a great metalsmith workshop in Barcelona, with which I have been working since the 80s”.
And, if he could choose a new project, what other painting from the collection at the Museo del Prado would Chus Burés reinterpret? “Elements of the works of Bosch, all those figures and elements that really fill his paintings…”.
Upon leaving Chus Burés' studio, in the heart of calle Serrano in Madrid, you come across the most exclusive fashion houses, but also the Juan March Foundation, the National Archaeological Museum and the Lázaro Galdiano Museum. Fashion and design have always looked to art for inspiration. And in some cases, such as that of Chus Burés, they speak the same language.