The Quality of an Idea
Renate Slavik interviewed by Claudia Lehner Jobst
Quality is the principle that has guided Renate Slavik over the past 25 years in her work as a gallery owner. But how does she go about it, how does she define quality in art?
RS: What matters is the message an oeuvre conveys. This is what distinguishes the jeweller‘s art from everyday jewellery. Every objet d’art genuinely represents the world of the artist. To me it is a vital characteristic of quality that this message can also be conveyed in concrete practical terms, in an expressive manner. Ideas need to be implemented in an authentic and descriptive way.
For some years, your active role as a member of the selection committee and your gallery‘s Grassi Award have been integral to every year of your work. Given the abundance of creative output, are a sense of perception and discernment of what is “one and only” in art required?
RS: Often it is hard to make a decision, because there is no such thing as “one and only”. This is the essence of art. Especially in the art of jewellery this precious, special moment occurs, as I have frequently pointed out, when a person finds his or her “counterpart” in my gallery: the piece of jewellery which she or he wants to wear directly on his or her body or clothes because it reflects something in his or her innermost being, or radiates something, complements his or her personality, enriches her or him in an exciting way or simply gives joy.
My activity as a member of the selection committee makes me happy despite the choices that one has to make, because I enjoy offering young artists a springboard for their careers. Today this is more
important than ever.
What could be the motto, the magic formula for a successful gallery owner, her team, her friends and her artists?
RS: I believe in miracles, and they do happen …
Excerpt from the catalogue Schmuck Stadtgespräch, May 2016,
Renate Slavik interviewed by Claudia Lehner-Jobst
„Sometimes you need to travel to San Francisco to find Vienna’s Himmelpfortgasse …“
“If you like this jewellery, you absolutely mustn‘t fail to go to ‘Velvet da Vinci’ “.
I raised my head and looked into the beaming face of a shop assistant in the museum shop of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Accompanied by my future husband Gerald, I had gone on an expedition to this place which brought rich pickings: an indispensable piece of jewellery for my collection and a stack of inspiring catalogues and monographs. Some years later, when we had to decide what our wedding ring should look like, we struck gold in one of those books. Gerald and myself chose, independently of one another, a ring made by the jewellery artist Stefano Marchetti. The next step was to find Stefano or rather a gallery selling his products. Overjoyed, I discovered that the place was very close by: the Viennese Slavik Gallery at Himmelpfortgasse 17, which I had known for some time, but had never set foot in it.
Right at our first visit, Renate gave us an extremely
warm welcome and introduced us to her world with such
enthusiasm that I had the impression she made up for all the years in which I had never been there. When I finally mentioned Stefano Marchetti’s name, Renate immediately launched into her praise of this magnificent artist, ending with the phrase: “And he also designs wonderful wedding rings!”
In the meantime, five years have elapsed. Five years which saw wonderful exhibitions, conversations with the artists and an exciting exchange of views with you, Renate – you whirlwind! Gerald once pointedly said about you: “Construction of the Austrian nuclear power plant Zwentendorf was an entirely superfluous affair – considering the energy already emanating from Renate!”
All the best for the next 25 years!
— Ingrid Schulz, Psychiatrist, Vienna
Ingrid Schulz with a brooch by Nicola Heidemann
We owe to Renate, our cherished friend, a helluva large number of embellishments and thus enhancements of our looks. If we were to stay on too long with her at her gallery we might well accumulate a heap of debts or become penniless, but NEVER EVER be vexed, because we are decorated, ennobled and – this is no exaggeration – even rejuvenated there! In this spirit we feel very close to our skilled friend Renate, who also has the gift of dispelling any bad mood.
25 years Galerie Slavik – well-deserved praise!
— Luise Kurmayer
Luise Kurmayer with a lapislazuli necklace by Michael Becker
A focal point of the international jewellery art scene: Galerie Slavik in Vienna
“A tiny sheet of paper can contain the whole world!” This wonderful phrase by the painter Wols (Alfred Otto Wolfgang Schulze), whom I regard as one of the most important European artists of the 20th century, can still serve as the mission statement for the Slavik Gallery decades later: a universe of tiny artefacts, a place exuding enormous vitality from its small scale.
I consider Renate Slavik, the highly sensitive founder and owner of the gallery, as a communication artist: with her own fascination, she takes those interested in
jewellery art along on a journey through a microcosm of shapes, materials and transformations. Accordingly, the throng of devoted jewellery aficionados around her is growing rapidly.
The Slavik Gallery is also a place of encounters with artists who present their concepts and freely discuss their further projects. Our world dominated by turbo-capitalism and neo-lib-eralism, where thinking is focused on luxury brands and rankings, has smothered and pushed into the background the pleasure of analysing in depth works of art (for me, this also includes jewellery). There are many jewellery businesses and many hallmarks around, but places where you can get sensuous first-hand experience and explanations have unfortunately become rare. It is not least because of this reason I wish for myself – and all lovers of jewellery art – that this laudable institution may continue to exist for a long time to come.
— Gerald Trimmel, artist and cultural scientist
The exhibition JEWELLERY CITY TALK – 25 years Slavik gallery is opening.
The guests are coming…
Renate and Denni
With a lot of enthusiasm Renate Slavik inaugurates the exhibition joyfully.
An exciting meeting of artists, clients and friends!
Jutta Pietsch-Grabner is presenting the catalogue JEWELLERY CITY TALK documenting our exhibition.
The brandnew catalogue is studied immediately!
Charming girls taking care of our guests.
Fascinating jewellery talk.
Animated talks between jewellery artists and clients.
The artists were arriving from near and far!
The party goes on in „Eden Bar“ nearby.
Renate´s grandson Simon is taking care of the guests with great pleasure.
Comfortable atmosphere at the „Eden Bar“.
Great entertainment with Anita Eberwein, Georg Lehner und Fritz Fischer.
Paul is offering delicous delicacies.