Where Art Meets the Body

Where Art Meets the Body

Published in the Flamingo (Air Namibia’s In-flight Magazine) in November 2004

Imke Rust writes about artist and jewelery designer Heike Lukaschik

Did you ever take your favourite work of art along to a dinner party? Why not? With Heike Lukaschik’s miniature sculptures, designed to fit the human body, you can do exactly that. Artworks in their own rights they are the ideal conversation piece. “I approach jewelery holistically – not only can it be worn on the body, but it can also be displayed like a painting or miniature sculpture in a room.” Says Heike Lukaschik.

“Not only has art itself shifted its meaning during the last decades, but jewelery has also changed its purpose, concepts and ideas. There is a need to rethink and restructure the customary interpretation of jewelery. Jewelery is not just an applied from of art. Jewelery is a form of art on its own.” She continues passionately.

This jewelery designer cum artist has chosen the difficult path to move away from the traditional concept of jewelery, and instead prefers to create wearable pieces of art. While commercial jewelery is often considered to be purely functional, ornamental or decorative, art jewelery is more than that: it explores, it invents, it expresses, it comments and it reacts. Art jewelery makes a significant difference to the spectator.

Heike Lukaschik sees her work as being more about art than jewelery. She wants to break conventions, and approach jewelery in a philosophical, intellectual and conceptual way. Her pieces are intended to entice a dialog with the wearer as well as the viewer, since art jewelery should be a means of communication.

Where classical jewelery generally just decorates the body and signifies status or wealth, Heike Lukaschik’s work questions, irritates and encourages deeper involvement and contemplation on the part of the viewer or wearer. To do this, Lukaschik plays with concepts, materials and juxtapositions. One of her works, Pearl Chain, is a case in point. The title already conjures a preconceived idea of what to expect. Looking at the work, confirms what we have already imagined from the title, it is a finely crafted chain of pearls set in silver. Only the list of materials looks suspicious: silver, laminated magazine prints, black pearl and synthetic diamonds (cubic zirconia). A second glance still fools the eye, but intellectually we realise that what appeared to be pearls (except for one) are in actual fact photographic images of pearls, which were cut out of a magazine, laminated and set in silver. The illusion is perfect and we are left to question our idea of reality. Is a magazine image of a pearl less real than a pearl? Is a perfect imitation just an imitation or is it a pearl in its own right? And is this unique pearl chain less valuable than a commercial one made of ‘real’ pearls?

Born in Cologne in 1969 Heike Lukaschik did her apprenticeship as a traditional goldsmith in Munich. Ten years ago she moved to Namibia pursue a job opportunity here. She quickly fell in love with the beautiful country and meeting her future husband, Rolf, a Namibian, made her decide to stay for good.  After having worked as a commercial jewelery designer for four years she enrolled at the University of Stellenbosch (South Africa) for a BA degree in Fine Art, with specialisation in Creative Jewelery Design and Metal Design. A cum laude student, she also received the prize of being the best student of the final year in the whole Fine Art Department. Since then she has participated in several group and solo exhibitions in Namibia, South Africa and Germany. In 2000 a jewelery piece designed and crafted by her, received the first prize at the prestigious Jewelery Platinum Competition South Africa “PLATAFRICA 2000”.

Today Lukaschik lives in Windhoek where she produces commercial jewelery for a local jeweler on a part time basis, leaving enough time to work on her own projects, aimed more at the exploration of artistic concepts within the wider confines of jewelery. In many of these artistic investigations she turns her view ‘inside’, trying to discover and engage with what is hidden within. ‘Desert Inside Me’ a large work which was recently on show at the Namibian Ceramics Biennale in the National Art Gallery of Namibia is a large figure, draped in delicate fabrics and wearing a mixture between jewelery and body armor, crafted from pieces of clay, to resemble the crusty surface of a dried-out river bed. While it can be read as the artist’s soul bursting and cracking due to a lack of the life-giving intellectual and emotional stimulation and support, it also shows a hardened crust breaking, laying bare and opening up, enabling the delicate but strong seeds of a creative spirit to grow.

Most of her works look distinctly feminine, but also acknowledge the essential masculine side through the clever combination of material, shapes, colours or content. Like a set of three bulky rings each topped with big silver crosses, entitled: See Me; Touch Me and Squeeze Me. Each cross is filled with a different material: Red glass splinters, red imitation fur and red latex. It successfully unites the duality of hard and soft, passion and sensuality, bulkiness and elegance, touch and logic, reacting and understanding. The works can be read in many different ways, yet intellectual comprehension is not the only way to see them. They are easily understood and appreciated on an intuitive and sensual level.

Unfortunately her works are often misunderstood in the ‘realm’ of fine art, since the art world cannot find a suitable category for them. Lukaschik found a beautiful quote on this subject: “Let us create gardens rather than new boxes. Only then will jewelery be freed from old illusions of form, function, materials and values.” (1989, V. Schwarzinger on the occasion of Ornamenta I).

“Jewelery is passion, lust, pleasure, energy, activity – it is life” Lukaschik concludes. Heike Lukaschik’s works can be viewed by appointment only. She can be contacted at heike@africaonline.com.na or on her cellular phone: +264 81 1229181.

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