“I want to seduce with my jewellery, my work is seduction; and when the seduction is achieved, the seduced can never be without the object of desire”. Ralph Bakker
The work of Rotterdam-based art jeweller Ralph Bakker provides a fitting conclusion to our series Small Wonders – Wearable Works of Art. The theme title is perfectly expressed in his featured work, Feather Pearls.
Highly-regarded for both his artistry and jewellery craftsmanship, Bakker creates what can best be described as ‘objects of desire’.
Bakker’s work is beguiling both in its beauty and complexity. There is reverence in Baker’s consideration to detail and these are ‘jewels’ in the truest sense.
Gemstones, precious metals and enamelling provide the perfect complement to each other. Each exquisite piece of jewellery is a harmonious marriage of materials, colour and form.
And for Bakker, it is in the making that form and function become intertwined.
Ralph Bakker has undoubtedly been influential within the field of contemporary jewellery, but the finesse and technique of his work remains unrivalled.
This is partly due to the fact that Bakker has always remained true to the traditions of jewellery-making. His passion for precious materials and his attention to detail have never wavered. As a result, he has transcended the passing trends of the jewellery world, and his place as a contemporary master of art jewellery is firmly established.
Working as a jewellery artist is a matter of attitude, a conscious choice for a certain way of working; a mentality. I work with the idea that without the great past no present is possible. My aim is to make a good piece of jewellery and whether it is defined as art is up to others. Ralph Bakker
As an admirer of classical Renaissance artist/craftsmen, such as Bevenuto Cellini, Bakker trained long and hard at the goldsmith’s bench. But it is not just technique and making skills that define his work.
Although Bakker takes a classical approach to goldsmithing, his design style is modern and timeless; something that cannot be said of many of his contemporaries.
Over the years, his jewellery designs have become increasingly refined and his meticulous detailing and use of visual repetition have become the hallmarks of his unique visual signature.
In the wrong hands, geometry and symmetry could make for a clinical combination. But in Bakker’s work it is hypnotic and magical. It resembles the visual rhythms usually found in nature, and perhaps on an intuitive level this is one of the reasons Bakker’s jewellery is so seductive.
Nature often provides Ralph Bakker with inspiration, as it does for many jewellery designers and artists, but few manage to capture its essence in the way he does.
Part of what makes Bakker’s aesthetic so powerful is the time he invests into design and making; and this is clearly evident. In today’s fast-paced world, time has become a commodity. Which is why ‘chronomanuality’ (the evidence of time invested in the production of the handmade object) is increasingly acknowledged as an aesthetic value in contemporary applied arts. Ralph Bakker’s work certainly commands high regard in this respect.
Although such conceptual themes are not a driving factor to Bakker, he still considers them to be important and inspiring to his work. Ultimately, the jewel, with all its traditions and connotations, becomes the concept of his work. For him the greatest satisfaction is in enticing others to possess and to wear his jewellery. And he achieves this with his ‘objects of desire’.
My work needs to be worn and whoever is wearing the piece in turn gives meaning to the work. Jewellery becomes an intricate part of one’s own intimate mythology. How then, can they still be mine? Ralph Bakker
Despite Bakker’s high level of artistry, his work is not intended for the confines of a gallery. His works of art were created to be worn, as that is when they truly come to life. Finding their home on the human body, they nestle against the skin and respond to every movement. Intimately displayed, they continue to seduce and beguile. And for Bakker, it is in this way that his work acquires new life and meaning.
To fully appreciate Ralph Bakker’s work, we recommend a visit to his website to view a detailed, high-resolution portfolio. You can also find details of forthcoming exhibitions via the Galerie Rob Koudijs website.
About Ralph Bakker
German-born Ralph Bakker lives and works in Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Bakker trained at the Gerrit Rietfeld Academy in Amsterdam. Ralph Bakker is represented by Galerie Rob Koudijs in Amsterdam, and his work is regularly shown in international galleries and museum exhibitions. His work is also held in collections throughout the Netherlands; as well as in the UK, USA and Switzerland.
- Visit the Ralph Bakker website to view his work in greater detail.
- Ralph Bakker’s work and information posts can also be explored on his Facebook page.
- Ralph Bakker is represented by Galerie Rob Koudijs in Amsterdam, a gallery specialising in contemporary art jewellery. A selection of work can be viewed on the Galerie Rob Koudijs website.
Photo credits: Michael Anhalt
Ralph Bakker’s jewellery features in the Rhine Capital Partners monthly reporting for December as part of our Small Wonders design theme.
- On 30th December 2013