When National Artist Arturo Luz was once asked why he went into sculpture, his reply was: "It was a natural extension of my painting." More interesting is the little-known fact that Luz himself went into jewelry, with his exotic and colorful Indian beads and coral stones strung into necklaces and bracelets.
Were the jeweler Hans Brumann to be asked the same question, very likely would he answer similarly. For Brumann, remarkably a Swiss who has been a resident in Manila for over four decades, bears the name that has become synonymous with the finest in jewelry. And is an item of jewelry not like a piece of sculpture itself? Wood, stone, and bronze were merely exchanged for precious gems and stones.
Organized by Hiraya Gallery, and now on view at the Makati Shangri-la Manila, is Hans Brumann's solo exhibition of recent sculptures, titled "Divertimento." No doubt, the word derives from the same Latin roots as the English "diversion," which is the action of turning something aside from its course. Thus, Brumann's choice of the title alludes to his turning away from his life-course, which has always been the art of jewelry.
Brumann's works are triggered by the qualities of his jewelry: exquisite, restrained, minimalist, pared-down and reservedly elegant, with nothing superfluous. And in place of his accustomed diamonds, rubies, and emeralds, Brumann now delights in the polish and density of his kamagong, molave, narra, mother of pearl and in this collection, steel.
Intriguingly, these are three-dimensional works whose subjects seem to have slipped away from their painterly, pictorial canvases: bird in flight, seascape and cityscapes with its sly reference to its gritty poverty and glass-and-steel grandeur. Often they assume the nature of a bas-relief. But it is in his abstract creations, making to allusion to physical reality, autonomous in their own existence, where Brumann draws the apparatus of constructivist sculpture: the vitality and tension of intersecting mass and volume, with their thrust and counter-thrust, their rhythmic and expressive manipulation of space between bars and blocks of wood or metal.
But while the essential function of jewelry is the adornment and enhancement often of the female body, each of Brumann's sculptures is an entity unto itself, and serves only the space that it ironically displaces. That, however, should not preclude Hans Brumann's temperament to treat his sculpture as gems writ large, surmounted not on human flesh, but on pedestals and walls.
Organized by the Hiraya Gallery, Hans Brumann’s Divertimento opens on November 29 till December 15 at the Mezzanine of the Makati Shangri – La Manila.