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9 January 2024
A major retrospective that describes the Spanish designer as a contemporary exponent of Art Nouveau
Who could embody the essence of the Art Nouveau movement today? This is the question posed by MAD, the Museum of Decorative Arts in Brussels which, on the one hundred and thirtieth anniversary of this artistic and decorative movement of which it is the cradle, is hosting a substantial exhibition dedicated to the creative universe of Jaime Hayon. In the Spanish artist and designer, MAD has identified the contemporary version of the art nouveau creative and it is no coincidence that the title of the exhibition is “Nuevo Nouveau” to suggest a rebirth of Art Nouveau.
The exhibition, which can be visited until January 27, offers over 350 works that represent Hayon’s expressive variety: from pictorial canvases to vases and up to furnishings and accessories for the home. The large canvases and small objects are displayed in an ideal dialogue to make clear to the visitor the creative path of the Spanish artist and designer who explained on the exhibition: “I don’t really think about separation between design, interior design, art installation or paintings. The only difference for me is function – when creating a product or engaging in an interior design project, function needs to be considered and given a key role. Aside from this, it’s all a blank canvas for me when starting a new project”.
Color and irony, organic and sometimes grotesque shapes are the elements that immediately catch the eye. But this chromatic and formal circus hides a rigorous side and a discipline to which Hayon is very attached. It consists in the meticulous study of details, in working on prototypes in search of the best solution and at the same time in choosing the highest manufacturing and finest materials. “Playing is a serious thing” the designer seems to say through his works, whether they are collector’s items or industrially produced. In both cases what appears to the eye is something unique and refined, full of design and production meaning, as well as formal.
Hayon, who often said he was devoted to Antoni Gaudì, seems almost obsessed with organic forms and the manifestations of nature which he declines by giving contemporary form to classic materials such as ceramic and glass. And precisely in one of the rooms through which the exhibition unfolds, the large canvases reveal the artistic inspiration for the collection of glass vases to which they are placed next to tell the visitor about the link between art and design in the imagination of the creative. The genesis of the projects is expressed through some sketches and drawings relating to Hayon’s creations which reveal the care and rigorous attention that lies behind the explosion of shapes and colors that characterizes his collections.
Hayon‘s production stands out and his style always shines through, after all it is his greatest skill, and he takes care of it and cultivates it with incessant dedication. Fantastic creatures, strong color combinations, dreamlike forms recur both in collectible works and in industrial production: the creative freedom of the former, moreover, is essential to make the latter significant and this aspect is made clearly in the MAD exhibition. Ceramics, glass, wood, and fabrics describe the many faces of Hayon’s talent who explains: “I want the exhibition to be like entering a cave full of treasures, packed with many types of works and creative explorations.
I want people to dive into the freedom of creative transversality. Break the boundaries and experiment with how different media, materials and ideas can feed the work and challenge the way it evolves”.
The images of the exhibition are by Sam Gilbert
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