I don’t usually let jewelry order me around, but when I saw Claudio Pino’s rings, I had to – in a moment of “Wayne’s World” insanity – bow down and say “I’m not worthy, I’m not worthy!” Like a frenzied groupie following a band, I even had the crazy notion to go to Canada and study with The Master himself!
Now, Claudio is probably really glad I didn’t turn up on his doorstep but all hyperboly aside, he makes some of the most exciting rings I have ever seen. Technically, Claudio harnesses the workhorses of the fine jewelry industry in his pieces: sterling silver, gold, faceted colored gems, soldering, riveting, polishing. When directed by a truly innovative, even radical driver, this team creates something altogether new.
In French, the term for Claudio’s rings might be sculpture portable – literally portable sculpture. Part wonderful machine, part exquisite fine jewelry and altogether explorations of form and function, they certainly push the envelope of what a ring is, and does.
Rings are my favorite style of jewelry, even though they are disdained by many jewelers as being the most limiting of forms. No way, I say. Following in the footsteps of Rachel Gera and Bjorn Lapponia in my love of huge “statement” rings, I say the wilder the better. And thus my admiration for Claudio’s creations.
In an article published in Modern Silver Magazine, I talk philosophically about jewelry in general and the magic of the ring in particular. It’s perhaps the most powerful piece of jewelry a person can own. I use Tolkien’s novel The Lord of the Rings as an example of a work that celebrates the power of a ring; in the trilogy, not only does “the ring” galvanize a whole host of peoples and ideologies, it literally transforms those who own it. Or, in a more quotidian example, a wedding ring transforms the wearer from a fiancé or fiancée to a husband or wife.
And now back to Claudio’s rings. The modest tagline on his website states his jewelry is: “a continuous search of innovation and elegance.” That’s perhaps the understatement of the century! Sure, it also mentions his awards, the galleries that represent him (truly the best of the best), and the books he’s in (Lark’s 1000 Rings, to name just one), but the jeweler himself is quiet.
I had to look deeper to find out about the jeweler himself, and most telling is Claudio’s description about his creative practice as quoted in an article in The Toronto Star. He says: “When I draw my design, I always have in mind that one day, it will find its owner and create a special relationship with it.” The idea that a piece of jewelry is alive, has intentionality and potentiality resonates with me. At its best, jewelry is not just a form of adornment, but transforms its wearer and simultaneously is transformed by it – it’s the Hegelian dialectic, a search for synthesis, the finding of truth.
I could talk on and on about the technical wizardry of Claudio’s rings; the exquisite sensitivity to scale; the luminous quality of his color choices, the quirkiness of the angles and sophistication of kinesis…and just how freakin’ cool they are! But I will not. I will end with something poetic, something simple. Because at heart, Claudio’s rings are poetic, and despite the complexity of movement, are born of a method uncomplicated and beautiful.
A French article celebrating Claudio’s work states: “Above all other artists [in this exhibition, Pino is] fascinated by movement, celestial bodies and space.” This reminds me of the poet Paul Eluard’s famous line: “I have so many excellent reasons to walk this pathless earth beneath this horizonless sky.”
Claudio, let us walk beside you.