Thursday, October 29, 2015

Piaget celebrates the achievements of its artistic collaborators Anita Porchet, master enameller and Hervé Obligi, lapidary sculptor

As part of its mission to deepen its Metiers d’Art capabilities, Piaget has been collaborating with the best artisans and artists in their respective fields to create exceptional pieces that bring together the finest watchmaking with the virtuosity of extraordinary craftsmanship. With creativity at its core, Piaget evolves the art of watchmaking through the skills of these artisans, inserting surprising art forms into the creation of unique watches.

Two of the artists that have contributed their Metiers d’Art expertise have been recognized for their outstanding work. Anita Porchet, master enameller, received the prestigious Gaia prize at the International Museum of Horology in la Chaux-de-Fonds. Often referred to as the Nobel Prize of watchmaking, the award acknowledges the individuals who have contributed to elevating the notoriety of horology on an international stage. Renowned for mastering every single enamelling technique, she has successfully applied her art through her collaborations with Piaget since 2006, creating miniatures on the dial of watches, by layering colours one after the other to achieve exquisite nuances. On the Piaget Altiplano rose miniature(G0A37147), with the most subtle details and delicate technique, Anita Porchet has created a radiant Yves Piaget rose in full bloom, with intense and vigorous petals.
Reference G0A37147. Piaget Altiplano38mmwatch in 18K white gold with bezel set with 78 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 0.7 ct).  Miniature-painted enamel dial depicting the Yves Piaget rose. Manufacture Piaget 430P ultra-thin hand-wound movement. Function: hours/minutes.Frequency:  21,600 vph. White satin strap with 18K white gold pin buckle. A single exclusive timepiece.
Lapidary sculptor Hervé Obligi will be presented in November with the great honour of “Maître d’Art, marqueteur de pierresdures” by the French Ministry of Culture in recognition for his dedication to his art and commitment to sharing his remarkable skills with a new generation of artisans, ensuring his rare art can continue to flourish. One of the great masters of this rare art form, Obligi masterfully and patiently carves away at the hardest of stones, breathing life into them with his tools, transforming them into works of refined beauty.  Earlier this year, during the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva, the Maison unveiled the Piaget Altiplano hard stone marquetry watch (G0A40249), featuring an interpretation of the Yves Piaget rose on its dial meticulously crafted by Hervé Obligi who cut and assembled Mexican Imperial jasper and cachalong in graded shades of purple to pale pink to create a sumptuous three dimensional effect against a backdrop of white gold.
Reference G0A40249. Piaget Altiplano 38mm watch in 18K white gold with bezel set with 78 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 0.7 ct).Dial in white gold with Mexican Royal Imperial Jasper and cachalong depicting the Yves Piaget rose. Manufacture Piaget 430P ultra-thin hand-wound movement. Function: hours/minutes. Frequency: 21,600 vph. White satin strap with 18K white gold pin buckle. 8 limited edition and numbered pieces.
Anita Porchet, Enameller
Overlooking the idyllic and serene Vaudois countryside in Switzerland, Anita Porchet painstakingly perfects the ancient art of enamelling with patience and passion.  In the intimate surroundings of her atelier, surrounded by hundreds of small bottles containing precious powders in every shade imaginable, she experiments like an alchemist mixing them together to create her perfect colour. Armed with her tools, she masterfully applies her paints before firing the enamels in one of her ovens. As the colour sets, her artistic vision turns into a reality.

Anita Porchet did not choose the art of enamelling; it chose her. When she was just 12 years old, her godfather, a self-taught enameller and engraver initiated her to the art form that was to become her lifelong passion. She furthered her training at the École des Beaux-Arts in Lausanne, honing her skills with miniatures, and spending the early part of her career working with enamel in jewellery before focusing on creating enamel pieces for the watchmaking industry.
Anita Porchet is renowned for mastering every enamelling technique, from the most complicated miniature, through cloisonné, champlevé, grisaille or even “paillonné” for example. She has even been known to seamlessly mix them to create the most artistic effects. Whatever the technique, she is a master at playing with light, shades, transparency, creating minuscule tapestries, layering colours one after the other to achieve exquisite nuances.  

While the world beyond the walls of her atelier is fast paced and reliant on technology, Anita Porchet’s world is one of absolute calm and focus. Enamelling is an art of perfection that requires the artist to slow down and be patient.  Working on a miniature scale is demanding, and unforgiving. If she leaves her art in the fire for a few additional seconds, her work may be ruined, but she knows that for an enameller, only perfection is good enough.

Despite the many challenges that come with this decorative art, Anita Porchet thrives on being tasked with achieving the impossible, to push boundaries, to create new colour mixes or new artistic effects. The possibilities are endless. Apart from her trusted microscope that allows her to achieve the level of detail required from a master enameller, she works entirely by hand with her paintbrushes, her chisel, her scraper and her compass. Fire brings the finishing touch to her miniature masterpiece, lighting it up with a magnificent colourful hue.  With her own unique style and her flawless technique, she gives every watch dial luminosity, brilliance and incomparable beauty, expressing herself through an infinite palette of colours.

Anita Porchet has been collaborating with Piaget since 2006, a long-term relationship that has given the artist the opportunity to hone her skills on watches, and given her permission to push the boundaries of her art, taking bold risks to bring her artistic vision to life. In her latest collaboration for the Secrets and Lights– A Mythical Journey by Piaget collection, Anita has worked on a number of pieces including the creation of miniatures on four one-of-a-kind timepieces. On a gold base, Anita Porchet has meticulously applied layer after layer of paint to create quasi-photographic scenes in enamel. In black and white or sepia, the extraordinary realistic effect is achieved through the absolute mastery of the subtlest shades of grey and brick colours.

Hervé Obligi: The Lapidary Sculptor
With a firm hand, and armed with the utmost confidence and passion, the lapidary sculptor carves away at the hardest of stones, transforming them into works of refined beauty. Hervé Obligi has spent decades perfecting the many techniques of glyptic art and stone marquetry. According to this inspired artist, one of the great masters of this rare art form, patience, perseverance, precision and humility are the qualities required of a lapidary sculptor.  Unlike other art forms, where materials can be removed then added back again, like a canvas painted over or a piece of clay added to the work in progress, there is never any going back for the artisan who works with stone.  Indeed, this craft is unforgiving because of the hard and irreversible nature of the stone.
It was in the world of carpentry and fine cabinetmaking that French-born Hervé Obligibegan his training in 1976. Following an apprenticeship in Tours, he was awarded a scholarship by the Sociétéd’Encouragement aux Métiers des Arts to work in the atelier of one of the great master craftsmen in Paris. There, he acquired the technical skills needed to restore the finest 18th century French furniture, and the ability to truly appreciate the aesthetics of the works around him, as he mastered the notion of volume and space.

During a trip to Florence in 1981, his passion for hard stone was unexpectedly ignited as he discovered the great works of art of the Renaissance sculptors. On his return to Paris, as a recipient of a special scholarship by the French Ministry of Culture, he embraced the demanding techniques of glyptic art and stone marquetry at a prestigious atelier, where he fine-tuned his skills by working on restoration projects for the Louvre Museum’s Apollo Gallery, as well as being trained in the specialised techniques of Asian art.

In the atelier he established in Montreuil in 1985, Hervé Obligigave free rein to his creativity, exploring new possibilities, while taking on the constant challenge of magnifying the perfect beauty of stones. In parallel, he continued dedicating his skills to restoring works of art and heritage projects, for which he received many awards and distinctions. From the Palace of Versailles and the French Senate to the Princely Palace of Monaco, Hervé Obligi, the magician of stone, brings fine objects back to their former glory.

While he recognises that his art is becoming increasingly rare as the years go by, he knows that there will always be individuals who truly appreciate the aesthetics of glyptic art and stone marquetry, and new artisans keen to discover the passion of stone. Determined to keep his craft alive, Hervé Obligi dedicates time and effort to training a new generation of artisans.

Despite having mastered all the techniques his art requires, he never ceases to be surprised by the stones he sets out to transform and the ideas they inspire in him. While some would say a stone is an inanimate and inalterable material, Hervé Obligi always sees the potential to alter it, and enhance its mysterious beauty. With his tools, his creative vision and his determination, he continues to breathe life into the hardest stone.

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