Alba Polenghi Lisca

Alba Polenghi Lisca
(b. 1939, Italy – 2021)

Alba Polenghi Lisca was an artist of exquisite sensibility; her clear vision is immediately recognisable, adapted through various artistic disciplines starting from drawing and painting moving to ceramic and jewellery. In the second half of the ‘50s she studied at the Brera Academy in Milan with masters Achille Funi and Roland Hetner.

Gracefully shifting from the bi-dimensional nature of drawing to the materic nature of steel and precious metal – such as silver and gold – Alba adopted an utterly complex and refined mental process. Her personal vision always expresses the emotionality of her inner experience, memories, feelings: an essential criteria to understand her jewellery.

From the intensity of ink on paper drawings to the abstract painting practice, Alba breaks the canons of composition following geometric lines and shapes until the surfaces are almost materialized. She takes a preliminary thin metal plate, in the same way as a sheet of paper, and she models it as a jewel to be worn: the line becomes cut, and the different elements are recomposed in unprecedented combinations, full of vivid energy.

The perfectly executed maquette are a result of a long multiplicative path that starts from sketch on paper moving gradually on glossy graph paper (as for a paper pattern). They are fundamental to understand all the process: craftsmanship combined with the ability of perspective vision plays a pivotal role, enhancing the drawing, freeing it in space as a volumetric composition. Volumes and depths, given by the reflection of light on curves and counter-curves are patiently obtained by embossing the metal to keep tension intact.

The light effects renew the chromatic intensities, the shading, the transparencies, so well-expressed by her vibrant and powerful paintings. Cuts, subtractions, alternation of reflective and satin surfaces, use of black paint on silver or different gold refining, enliven the forms by giving dynamism and plasticity to the jewel. Lunar shades or sudden luminescence dress the body with a fluid elegance, adapting the jewels to the surface “body”.

In Alba’s work, strong is the need to deepen and apply geometries of the “golden section” and the intimate entail to translate emotionality into essentiality of form to the work of art. The treatment of the surface, whether paper or metal, is an expression of her thoughts: organized, folded, and tight. Pictorial fabric becomes concrete form, whether in gold and silver jewellery or laser-cut steel plate jewellery, enlivened by resins or enamels. Alba unfolds, in the transition from graphic sign to precious ornament, her intimate vision of the world. Lyricism and abstraction, emotion and accuracy, descriptive language, and plastic register, both handled with equal intensity and a steady hand. The concepts are never in contrast but are placed in a harmonious vision. The result of her relentless research is aimed to new orders, which makes her creations timeless, of great beauty and of distinctive character.

 She was born in Milan, where she attended the Brera Academy of Fine Arts under Achille Funi and Mauro Reggiani; she studied ceramics with Roland Hetner and delved into the art of engraving. At first, she devoted herself into painting, taking part in several group and solo exhibitions in Italy and abroad. Since the mid-1980s her production acquires the ‘third’ dimension using metal; she lands in the field of jewellery with the creation of a collection commissioned by Thompson for the De Beers campaign. Numerous private commissions over time, as well as collaborations with prestigious companies in the field. Today, her works has been shown in several international exhibitions. – Paola Stroppiana

When I started creating jewels, I discovered the beauty and strength that shapes can communicate. Dialogue becomes enriched with another element, the intrinsic relationship between surface and shape. My artistic discovery took a step forward, revealing a relationship with the material, the hard metal sheet, which achieves a structure made of precision, rigor, and measure. The jewel, an artistic object, was to move from the meaning sought within a chromatic semantic field, to a language of form and volume. Acquiring shape the surface takes on itself to transmit lights and shadows, the form is cut to generate another surface, animated to make the geometry fluid. The creativity of an artist, I believe, is expressed in the dialogue that she has with herself. An intense, continuous inner conversation that becomes the guiding principle of his activity, and as a result of his life. Above all, we are looking, we are searching, we are undertaking a journey, this path leads to the products of our work.‘ – Alba Polenghi Lisca.