Delfina Delettrez – the Surreal Medical Examination

Delfina Delettrez has been acclaimed by the specialized press many times that yes, she may be the daughter of the Fendi’s, yes, she may be only 22 years old, yet even so, it seems clear to them that her business is the jewelry business. The French press related her work to “joaillerie” and though she has made a few pieces in more precious materials, I remained perplex in front of her silver and grossly enameled pieces…

I began to study more carefully her work and came to realize that it consisted of many similitudes; a bit like in the music industry when many incline to a new hit with a catchy riff or clever refrain remixed throughout a song that has a certain air of “déja-vue”? Though it seems only a few music buffs or old cookies recall that this new “song” is only a chopped up cover version of a classic golden oldie. I suppose if one is to compare Delfina Delettrez to one of those commercial RNB/Hip-Hop rappers, perhaps my colleagues are right in assuming that the Bling business is her business.

Let’s review some of jewelry history’s classics…

The traditional Irish engagement ring known as the ‘claddagh’, symbolically depicts a heart expressing love, set above it; a crown, emblematic of loyalty, held between two hands; representing a trusting friendship. Renaissance jewelers later applied this motif to their ‘gimmel’ rings. These consisted of two or more interlocking rings joined by a pivot to slide into one. One of the many practices during the betrothal, a law binding engagement to a promised marriage, was to separate the ring in three, one for the groom, another for the bride and the third for the witness. Only when all the arrangements were made and engagements kept, would the ring be reunited on the fourth finger of the bride’s left hand. The Romans, who had first introduced the concept of the betrothal rings, embellished their bronze bands with inscriptions. The Italians have also known this type of ring as ‘fede’ rings since the medieval times. But perhaps Delfina Delettrez wanted to revive an antique ring model under a more contemporary Italian commercial tone like “Secret Hands Ring” rather than letting the Irish hold the production monopoly of these traditional engagement rings.

Delfina Delettrez has also worked with the concept of a hand, or finger, gripping its wearer, rather than an emblem of love. Surrealist in approach, it has been perceived as rather gruesome when associated with her more gothic pieces. Initially, her finger rings were to be sold with nail polish so as to customize the jewel to match the wearer’s nails, and though the idea reinforced a surrealist concept, the effects of acetone on silver must have dissolved and tarnished the idea, which would of never have happened had it of been made of gold like Césare’s thumb…

Bruno Martinazzi, an Italian symbolic jewelry artist, has been exploring since the 1960’s the meaning of life and truth through his art. What he refers to as ‘the existential’ can be resumed by focusing on the human form, such as hands, fingers and lips. The piece he is most known for, entitled ‘Goldfinger’ circa 1969, made of 20 and 18 karat gold, have led to a collection of works named ‘Metamorphasis’, recently displayed in the 2009 exhibition held in Torino, Italy.

Delfina Delettrez first released her ‘hand’ ring, and then pursued the collection with the bangle version entitled ‘fist bracelet’ by slightly modifying the thin shank into the palm of the hand.

Magnifying body parts has always been a jewelry concept; Salvador Dali explored this by extracting them directly from his paintings. In 2001, his jewelry pieces were reunited and shown in Figueres, at the Dali Theatre Museum. Photographs of the pieces presented on silk screens behind the jewelry pieces, challenged the viewer to conceive a more surrealist approach in the wearing of these. One of the better-known photographs is of a woman substituting her body parts by Dali’s jewelry pieces featuring an eye, mouth and hand.

Inevitably one of Delfina Delettrez’s necklaces inspired the same tendency, but not necessarily for the same reasons. However, a lesser known photograph by Dali featuring his ‘Leaf Veined Hands’ broche worn on shoes didn’t seem to go amiss as an inspiration for Delfina Delettrez’s collaboration with the shoe designer; Giuseppe Zanotti.

Delfina Delettrez has made many pieces not only of hands and fingers, but also of eyes and lips, almost like fragmented faces. One of her rings, where a golden thread links the main facial features, manages to recreate a face where there shouldn’t be one.

The idea aspires to Martinazzi’s concept of ‘the existential’, but also to a technique used already long before by Salvador Dali in his necklace ‘Tree of Life’. Nevertheless, Delfina Delettrez used the idea of these magnified and fragmented body parts to create one of her more important pieces, composed as a necklace but using the visual language of the enameled versions of her eyes and lips pieces.

The more popular pieces of her collection are series of enameled eyes and red enameled lips. Another artist that was known for enameling eyes and lips and linking them with a gold thread was Niki De Saint Phalle, who created a necklace out of those sheer elements in 1973, summarizing her more known sculpture pieces, the ‘nanas’.

The more you study Delfina Delettrez’s hit wonders, whether it be her ‘anatomik’al jewels, her bat earrings, or her skull rings, they can all be traced back to an artist that has devoted their life to a purpose and meaning. Though I’m starting to feel more like a legal examiner by exploring her approaches to body parts, it feels surreal to find such meaning in all these ‘golden oldies’ that seem to lack in her work. Certain press reviews stated that there didn’t seem to be a golden thread in her work, but dismissed it to proclaim with enthusiasm the novelty of her work. However, there hasn’t yet been a published article or interview of Delfina Delettrez that gives us any information that wasn’t included in the press pack on who she is and the significance behind her work. I have yet to be convinced she isn’t a well-marketed commercial entity remixing classics, instead of wanting to become one of the classics.



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