Christie’s on King Street in London will be hosting a one-week tribute to the stunning creativity of Wallace Chan, the world-famous Chinese jewelry designer, visual artist and innovator.
Running from September 4-10, the free exhibition titled “The Wheel of Time” will include 150 jewelry pieces and six titanium sculptures, representing five decades of Chan’s work. The majority of the items in the show have been loaned to Christie’s by the artist’s long-term collectors.
According to Christie’s, “The Wheel of Time” serves as a metaphor for Chan’s labor-intensive working process, requiring meticulous attention to detail. His art embraces traditional aspects of Chinese aesthetics, combined with respect for the intrinsic qualities of his working materials, the unique skill employed in carving them, and the element of time involved in their creation.
“In the blink of an eye, a half a century has flown by,” Chan said. “Time is an eternal wheel that rotates for infinity with neither beginning nor end. In the creative process, time is a theme so intangible, yet omnificent.”
One of the most fascinating items in the exhibition is the “Legend of the Colour Black,” a shoulder brooch sculpture featuring one of the largest known cut black diamonds in the world. The diamond weighs 312.24 carats and is set alongside silver grey diamonds, crystal sapphire, black agate, titanium and the Wallace Chan Porcelain, a material Chan has spent years developing which is said to be five times stronger than steel.
A second notable piece is “The Joy of Life” brooch, featuring one of Chan’s most important motifs — a mesmerizing butterfly — comprised of pink sapphire, blue sapphire, tsavorite garnet, colorless diamond, yellow diamond, pearl and titanium.
“A deeply philosophical man, Wallace infuses his jewels with Oriental spiritualism,” explained François Curiel, Chairman, Christie’s Europe. “This is the motif which he spends his entire creative life interpreting and reinterpreting, experimenting with endless combinations of gemstones, mediums, styles, aesthetics and executed in his world-renowned techniques.”
One of those techniques is called “The Wallace Cut,” a carving style that employs a dentist’s drill with a specially adapted blade to render a three-dimensional portrait into the non-faceted back of a gemstone. The drill, which spins at 36,000 rotations per minute, generates so much heat that the process has to take place under cold water or else the stone could be easily damaged.
According to Christie’s, the 67-year-old Chan’s artistic contributions are featured in prestigious collections at the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), The British Museum (London) and Capital Museum (Beijing).
“Christie’s is committed to supporting great artists and the evolution of their work,” added Guillaume Cerutti, CEO, Christie’s. “We hope collectors and art enthusiasts around the world will be enriched by this rare retrospective of Wallace Chan.”
Credits: Photos courtesy of Christie’s.