A new minstrel singing the myths of the past, a Renaissance humanist who aims at reviving the most fascinating mysteries of the Mediterranean world so dear to him. Ivan Barbato draws his inspiration from the Mare Nostrum (Mediterranean Sea) also called the Great Sea by the ancient Jews. The Mediterranean Sea was the theater of the struggles between Pluto and Neptune in ancient Greco-Roman mythology. This creative artist is immersed not only in the ancestral myths but also in the Renaissance, that had its birth in Florence. This Tuscan city, synonym of a new artistic language, expressed its originality in the goldsmith field through refined techniques full of hidden meanings. Heir to a centuries-old tradition, Ivan creates extraordinary unique pieces in his workshop situated in Cardano al Campo in the province of Varese (Italy).
It is no coincidence that his latest creation bears an evocative name “Sulle Orme del Tempo” (on the paths of Time). A head of Medusa, the Gorgon who was always represented with serpentine hair and a petrifying gaze in ancient Greek and Roman myths, is featured in the center of this refined medallion. A mythological figure who has fascinated famous artists such as Caravaggio, Benvenuto Cellini, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, to name but a few. The meaning of the name Medusa (in ancient Greek Μέδουσα) is protector. The wearer of this precious piece of art will not only wear a unique and unrepeatable artifact but will also be the owner of a propitiatory talisman. The head of the Gorgon is engraved on lava stone and delicately set in 18K gold. The surrounding frame is perforated and engraved with a burin, alternating with polychrome marble micro-mosaics, in burnished 925 silver setting, with grain-set diamonds. Ivan wishes to evoke new perspectives and dimensions through his inspired creations. Like Ulysses, who traveled the whole world motivated by a thirst for knowledge, Ivan Barbato takes us in a fascinating journey through the ages and different places. For instance, the lava, coming from the volcano Vesuvius, makes us dream of Naples and its ancestral myth of Vulcan, the God of fire and metalworking. The complex and accurate engravings and burin techniques bring back echoes of Florentine tradition.
Medusa medallion engraved on lava stone surrounded by burin engraved 18K gold and polychrome micro-mosaic marble
Yet all roads lead to Rome! On the occasion of the Rome Jewelry Week and the Incinque Jewels Award (October 2022) this exquisite medallion will be showcased for the first time. The Eternal City, the center of the Mediterranean world, will be a perfect scene! The theme of Medusa is reproposed in this brooch-pendant.
The serpentine aspect is represented even more: the head is surrounded by snakes, emphasizing in this way its terrestrial nature because the Medusa is also a symbol of the Great Mother Earth. Here she is in the guise of a priestess, a sort of apotropaic mask. The propitiatory nature of this meaningful jewel is evident. The craftsmanship is meticulous in 18k gold, lava stone and cognac diamonds. The face seems to come alive, making us reminisce the story of this deadly goddess who was also the bearer of salvation.
Bacchus medallion in golden bronze and micro-mosaic marble
The theme of the mask continues in Bacchus, God of the vine and of the grape harvest, as well as of the pleasure of the senses and of enjoyment (hence the term Bacchanal, a cult dedicated to this deity). The Bacchus medallion presents the head of the divinity in the center with a marble micro-mosaic surrounding. Dionysus/Bacchus is represented with grapes and vine leaves on his head and with his mouth wide open, praising voluptuous joy. As the ancient Greek poet Callimachus wrote: “Bacchus, lord of the people, guardian and source of joy”. Among the most emblematic figures of Greco-Roman mythology, obviously the Satyr had to be included.
Satyr brooch-pendant in 18K gold and coral
He was supposed to be the companion of Bacchus/Dionysus and dwelled in the woods and mountains. This sylvan deity, often portrayed with his phallus in erection, is the personification of fertility and vital force. Ivan Barbato’s jewels are symbolic and offer numerous interpretations. An example is the angel skin coral brooch-pendant, which at first sight could remind us of a theatrical mask of Ancient Greece, yet its inspiration is drawn from Punch (in Italian “Pulcinella”) a typical Neapolitan character, the most popular of marionettes and glove puppets.
Punch brooch-pendant mask in angel skin coral, white gold and freshwater pearl
Clown pendant in yellow and white gold with cognac diamonds and coral
The farcical theme continues with a pendant that represents a jester immortalized in coral, an emblem of good luck and of life itself due to its crimson color. The sea, a chest of hidden treasures, is one of the protagonists in many of Ivan Barbato’s works.
White gold pendant with blue diamonds, Tahiti pearl and shell
Flower-shaped shell, yellow gold pendant, blue sapphire
Octopus ring, white gold, brown diamonds and baroque pearl
Seahorse pendant in vanadinite
Shells, pearls, seahorses and even an octopus appear in these one-of-a-kind works connected to the thalassic world. I asked Ivan to share the sources of his poetics:“I have always been attracted by the tales of mythology, by the places linked to it, which also reflect my Neapolitan origins. This is why I love to create jewels with corals from Torre del Greco, the lava stone of Vesuvius and to design figures which belong to myths and legends leading back to the ancient civilizations of the Mediterranean. “
On this note, I wish to quote a piece of poetry written by Ivan Barbato: “And if tomorrow the world should change, I would still wish to create beauty, of that material that shines, full of light like a breaking dawn …”
Discover more: gioielliivanbarbato.com
Article edit by Laura Astrologo Porché
CollectionIvan BarbatoJEWELSLifestyleLuxuryRoma Jewelry WeekWATCHES & JEWELS