WHEN THE TUSCANY JEWEL ART MEETS THE BUTTERFLIES FROM COSTA RICA
Jewelry Maestro, Fabrizio Acqufresca, specializes in classical Italian art and the ancient technique of “cesello” that formed part of the artistic dynasty and lifework of the Acquafresca family, dating back to the Tuscan Renaissance (14th century). The Maestro, with this background and with passion and joy that marks his life and art, regularly teaches in the Alchimia Contemporary Jewelry School in Florence and in many foreign countries where, during “chasing and repoussé” workshops, shares with students his unique knowledge and experience of accumulated generations of artists and craftsmen in his family.
Totally in love with art and nature, with the same passion as he teaches, in Rome the Italian artist talked to JL Interviews magazine about his work, family, travels, love (newly married to Andrea Castillo, goldsmith) and butterflies from Costa Rica, protagonist of his last jewel collection. “The butterfly is the subject that best represents delicacy and sensitivity. Sensitivity and delicacy are hardly expressible virtues of the soul”, he said. The butterfly possesses the capacity to transform itself from a simple grounded caterpillar to a colourful winged creature: for Acquafresca a symbol of change and evolution.
This year the Tuscan Maestro can be found (in addition to his hometown, Florence, Italy) in Belgium, Cairo, Dubai, UK, Portugal, USA, Switzerland, Romania and, for the first time, in Australia. One can find his works at HAWAII at Studio22kt gallery, COLORADO, Vail, Jim Cotter Gallery, COLORADO SPRING, in Broadmoor jewelry Gallery, SEATTLE Facere Gallery, COSTA RICA Artflow gallery. Whereas, his new extraordinary jewels collection is dedicated to the unique ” THE BEETLES COLLECTION” works and will be available at the FACERE gallery in Seattle USA on October 4, 2017 with the event “Sign of Life”
The artistic tradition in the Acquafresca family dates back to the 17th century. Could we say that becoming what you are now was a kind of fate for you?
I believe that each of us has our destiny already marked, it is only for us to discover and engage in the adventure called life, discovering and following our way by listening to the signals coming from heaven. It’s here that miracles happen and you realize that while walking you have the feeling that all things are in place.
The oldest document of my historic family lineage dates back to 1619, when Armaniolo Sebastiano Acquafresca, also as my father from Bargi on the Tosco-Emilian Apennines, manufactured and sold fine precious guns. There are seventeen generations among us. After the death of my ancestor Felice Acquafresca (1859-1947), Scavezzacollo, for his indefinite temper, the witness goes to my uncle Brandimarte, a famous silversmith and writer. He was undoubtedly the protagonist of the Florentine artisan scene and founder of one of the most renowned workshops crafts. It is here that at age of thirteen I held my first hammer in my hand. Since that moment my story began and the dynasty continues. The hammer became my “weapon”, the art of chiseling my destiny.
How long have you been involved in jewelry production? What materials do you work on?
As a 13 years old boy (1983), I hammered for the first time and it is still the instrument with which I play my music today. In the early years I have devoted myself to works as large as candlesticks or trays, learning to carve various types of design: from floral to figurative, from baroque to abstract working the most beautiful metal in the world, silver. After twenty years of experience I approached jewelry, thanks to one of the most significant meetings of my life: Lucia Massei, founder of Alchimia Contemporary Jewelry School in Florence (www.alchimia.it). Lucia gave me the opportunity for the first time to teach the general public and here is where the art of the chisel intersects the beauty of creating jewelry with the addition of a contemporary vision.
Who taught you what you know? Did you have masters?
There are a lot of figures from which I have drawn techniques, secrets and skills. I can never be grateful enough to all my great masters, including my uncle Brandimarte who forged my character since my childhood. However, the people from whom I have learned and continue to learn more and more are my students. I always learn something from them.
You travel a lot. What role does your journey have in your life? I guess you do not travel just for work…
Traveling is not just moving from one place to another, but opening up to new worlds and different cultures. Always re-adapting, fleeing from monotony, to find the new, the different. It’s like opening your eyes for the first time and rediscovering everything from the beginning every time. One of the luckiest trips was in Costa Rica, where I met not only my love and present wife, Andrea Castillo, but with her, a refined goldsmith (www.jewel-lab.com), I found the inspiration for my latest works.
What is your last collection about? Why did you choose the butterfly as the leitmotif?
The butterfly is, in my opinion, the subject that best represents delicacy and sensitivity. Sensitivity and delicacy are hardly expressible virtues of the soul. I succeed through the creation of my jewelry. It is no coincidence that Costa Rica is one of the countries that boasts the widest variety of species.
And Florence? You Live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Does its art, history, and beauty affect you?
Florence is where I have my roots. I feel like it’s child, and for me it is a great mother who always awaits me with open arms.
What is special about your work? What makes you a different artist?
The intimacy and depth of the relationship between me and silver is similar to that of two lovers. Every strike of the hammer is a pleasure materializing on the metal plate and taking shape in the sculpture.
You are a teacher at the Alchimia Contemporary Jewelry School in Florence. What do you teach your students?
I try to convey love and passion for what our hands and our soul can only get out through technique. Love and passion without ability and study are not enough to make an artist a lover.
Do you have a motto, a philosophy or a thought that characterizes you both as an artist and as a person?
Maintain a goal, visualize it and believe to reach it. Listen to the messages of the world, they will bring you to your destination.
How would you describe a perfect jewel? What stone do you consider most valuable to a woman?
I’m not a conceptual, I’m not a contemporary, I’m a Tuscan marked by the Renaissance with love for nature. Creating a perfect jewel for me means reproducing reality by transforming it through the passion and technique of the chip and chisel into a unique and prestigious work. Every time, a new creation appropriates a piece of my soul making it live and breathe. Today, I think that uniqueness is the first value of every work. Regarding which stone I prefer, I remain classic, the eternal one. Two of them are among the most noble and pure: the pearl, daughter of the water and the diamond, fruit of primordial nature.
“The difference between false and true memories is the same as for jewels: always the false ones seem the most real, the brightest.” Salvadore Dali said, do you agree with him?
In my house I have only original paintings, I never loved prints, I find them skeletons with no soul.
What are the next events in Italy and abroad with your participation scheduled for 2017? Where can we admire your works?
Every year I do a world tour to share and teach this wonderful technique of kicking and chasing chip and chisel through intensive workshops. This year I will be in Belgium, Cairo, Dubai, Florence, UK, Portugal, USA, Switzerland, Romania and Australia for the first time. My works can be found at HAWAII at Studio22kt gallery (http://studio22k.com/), COLORADO, Vail, Jim Cotter Gallery (http://www.jcottergallery.com/), COLORADO SPRING, in Broadmoor jewelry Gallery (http://www.broadmoorjewelryco.com/), SEATTLE Facere Gallery (http://www.facerejewelryart.com/), COSTA RICA Artflow gallery. I will present my new collection dedicated to the unique “BEETLES COLLECTION” works at the FACERE gallery in Seattle USA on October 4, 2017 with the event “sign of life” http://www.facerejewelryart.com/
Written by Joanna Longawa
Photos credits: Photo Joanna Longawa with Fabrizio Acquafresca by Gabriel Hernàndez @ Photos from Fabrizio Acquafresca archive took by Dario Garofalo, Andrea Castillo, Priscio Tozzi, Federico Cavicchioli