LIFESTYLE People

Cindy Chao | 無法用言語形容的珠寶藝術新時代 The Limitless of Nouveau New

美國史密森尼國家自然歷史博物館館長Jeffrey Post說 :「我們現在收藏的當代藝術,將是未來的古蹟。」2008年一隻「紅寶側飛蝴蝶」破蛹而出,翅膀閃耀著無燒紅寶石的光芒飛越10逾年重洋,翩翩降落在法國巴黎裝飾藝術博物館,館中陳列著自13世紀起,各時期最具代表性的藝術作品,21世紀的當今,來自台灣的藝術珠寶家Cindy Chao趙心綺,代表珠寶藝術史上的新時代(Nouveau New)。

The curator of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Jeffrey Post said, “As a museum and cultural institution, it has a responsibility and privilege to preserve future vintage.” In 2008, the “Ruby Butterfly” pushed its way through the cocoon and spent more than 10 years flying across the sea with glory giving off from the wings surrounded by Burmese rubies; it arrived gracefully at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs (a museum of decorative arts in Paris), which has the most iconic art collections since the 13th century. In the current 21st century, the jewelry artist Cindy Chao from Taiwan represents the start of the Nouveau New.

Cindy Chao作品Black Label Masterpiece大師系列編號No. I年度蝴蝶,以每年僅一件的蝴蝶主題創作,反映創作心境和工藝與創意上的演進,從2008年至去年累計9件作品問世。今年首件「紅寶側飛蝴蝶」胸針被納入齊名羅浮宮的巴黎裝飾藝術博物館(Musée des Arts Décoratifs,簡稱MAD)典藏,和Cartier、Van Cleef & Arpels、Boucheron等百年品牌齊名,如今Cindy Chao的作品被國際媒體與歐洲學者公開讚譽,為停滯數個世紀的珠寶產業掀起工藝革命,在拍賣會上屢屢高價落槌,更登遍藝術博覽會。

為生存而創作

《enya Fashion Queen》走進Cindy Chao的工作室,大片觀景窗引入台北市容,採訪當天她身穿白T恤和西裝外套,中長髮慵懶披散於肩頭,舉手投足的從容和自信好比外頭和煦晨光,即便現在能坐在這位置談話她仍坦言「很難想像。」外界愛看蝴蝶華麗絢爛的羽翼,卻鮮少人知道Cindy初創品牌頭六年層層埋進心裡的苦痛記憶,她回首當時道「我的寂寞是很多人不懂。」

Cindy的曾祖父是建築師謝自南,父親則為雕刻師,世代家傳的藝術血脈滋養並茁壯了她這輩子投身創作的決心,採用傳承自18世紀的手工蠟雕技法,讓Cindy的大師系列作品各個就像微型雕塑。然而追求藝術而捨棄商業模式,她只能建造個人平台創作,2004年,品牌CINDY CHAO The Art Jewel從僅有兩人的工作室開始營運,就此投身珠寶藝術創作。

回到家庭Cindy還是一名單親媽媽,擔心愛子沒能受到健全照顧,將年僅9歲的兒子送往歐洲貴族學校,全是考量單親家庭的現實面,她坦言孩子未來的人生「沒有爸爸能支持。」也許數一數二的教學環境才是最好的決定,期間更遭逢父親腦中風驟逝,談及那段生離死別的光陰,Cindy不由得縮起肩頭說道「那幾年我從來沒有感冒過。」當人生走在谷底,她只能繃緊神經創作求存,而愛子就是她的最大動力。

為創作而創作

Cindy 已能雲淡風輕說著那段為生存而創作的六年,還能勉勵團隊「只要活下來,就會成功。」2013年「皇家蝴蝶」蒙受美國史密森尼國家自然歷史博物館(Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History)典藏,一旁還陳列有世界最大藍鑽「希望之星」、拿破崙皇后的皇冠等藏品,Cindy 笑稱當年記者會上,主流媒體恐怕都在問「怎麼會收藏活著而且還是華人的作品。」,當年館方表示「我們有義務蒐藏未來的古蹟,這件作品非常能夠代表當代珠寶藝術典範。」這席話像一條送往人生低谷的救命繩,至今Cindy 仍激動說道「我就是沒把它當傳統作品在做!」華人品牌就此撬開西方藝術史的大門。

此刻的Cindy有更多的勇氣和資源,回歸追求卓越的藝術創作宗旨,她形容「沒有任何力量可以阻撓我前進。」2020 Black Label Masterpiece 大師系列五大新作,就是意境、創意、工藝和用色上的突破。其中「無懼的羽毛」將上千顆哥倫比亞祖母綠集結一身,以不同以往的鑲嵌方式設計作品,歐洲工匠師見此嘆「你完全沒有任何懼怕。」回憶起歐洲藝術博覽會(TEFAF Maastricht)上,參展者無法以過去的藝術涵養形容眼前作品,一張張情溢於詞的神情,她猜想「也許這就是20年後的創作。」雛鳥羽翼本質輕柔,歷經鍛造已然閃耀雋永生命力,洞見 Cindy 設計的手法也恍若15年創作人生的疊影。

為傳承而創作

已走過不惑之齡的 Cindy 以女性、華人、創業家和藝術家等頭銜蜚聲國際,而現在就讀華盛頓商學院的兒子還講了一口流利法文,母子倆身處異鄉、各自拚搏,最終交會在此刻,成為彼此人生最好的陪伴,Cindy 終能笑稱「我當時是真的很有遠見。」堅持築夢的她如今不僅是愛子人生中的典範,更是珠寶藝術領域的華人典範,然而怎麼延續品牌生命?她思索下一個15年可能是為了傳承而創作,在創意、設計乃至經營管理培育新一代。憶及首隻年度蝴蝶納館的慶祝晚宴上,Cindy 從座位站起彷彿被一個皇冠加冕,讓她有更強大的勇氣和信念引領新時代。

Starting from Black Label Masterpiece I Annual Butterfly, Cindy Chao only creates one butterfly each year to reflect her mindset and exploration of innovative techniques; there’s a total of 9 pieces completed since 2008. This year, her first creation “Ruby Butterfly Brooch” is collected by the Musée des Arts Décoratifs (MAD); the art piece has held the same position of the hundred-year-old brands, such as Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Boucheron, etc. At the present time, Cindy Chao’s artworks have been widely commended worldwide by the media and European scholars; the revolutionary craftsmanship has aroused after stagnation for several centuries, and her art creations have made headlines for the staggering auction results throughout art exhibitions.

Create to Survive

Walking into Cindy Chao’s workshop, the view of Taipei through a large landscape window welcomed the enya FASHION QUEEN. On the day she received our interview, she wore a plain white T-shirt, a blazer, and a shoulder-length straighten hairstyle; her restful and confident attitude was like warm morning sunlight. “Frankly unbelievable,” said she, who has got such a great reputation. Although people enjoy witnessing the glorious and dazzling wings of butterflies, few of them know Cindy’s hardship memories of the initial 6-year startup period. She recollected that time and said, “My loneliness was that no one understood my innovative design approach.”

Cindy’s grandfather was Hsieh Tzu-nan, an architect; and her father was a sculptor. The art talent inherited from her family across generations is in her blood, and it has fostered her determination to take creation as her career. Each artwork of Cindy’s masterpieces collection is like a miniature sculpture. Yet, pursuing art instead of a business model made her only set up a personal creation platform. In 2004, the brand CINDY CHAO The Art Jewel started as a workshop with 2 staffs only; Cindy has devoted herself to the creation of art jewel ever since.

When she returns home, she is just a single mom who is worried about not giving the best to her son. Sending her 9-year-old son to study in an aristocratic school in Europe is under the practical consideration in the single-parent family. She admits it frankly that her son’s prospect has been “without any support from a father”; maybe the elite education environment will be the best decision for her son. During those days, Cindy underwent her father’s sudden death after a stroke; when she mentioned the period spent living in separation, “I didn’t catch a cold during those years,” said Cindy, who just shrugged her shoulders. When she walked in the bottom of the valley, she could only live life intensely and create to survive, while her loving son has been her greatest motivation.

Only Create Works of Art

Without the unpleasant feelings, Cindy was telling her hardship during the past six years; “Survive, and you will succeed,” she said, which to encourage her team member at that time. In 2013, the “Royal Butterfly Brooch” was accessioned into the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Next to it, there’re displays including the large deep blue diamond “Hope Diamond”, the queen’s crown once owned by Napoleon, etc. Cindy was telling humorously about what she was thinking at the press conference in front of mainstream media, “I guess they were wondering why the museum collects the artwork when the artist is still alive, even hard to believe it’s a creation of a Taiwanese artist.” At that time, the museum indicated that “We have the obligation to collect the future historical monument. The art piece is an iconic model example of contemporary art jewelry.” What is said is like a rescue rope descending to the bottom valley in my life. Until now, Cindy still claims it excitedly, “I’ve never intended to create a traditional work of art.” That’s how a Taiwanese brand unlocked the gate to the western history of art.

At present, Cindy has more courage and resources to follow her original purpose of pursuing excellent art creation; as she described, “Nothing stops me” The new 2020 Black Label Masterpiece collection with a total of 5 creations shows the breakthrough in conception, creativity, crafting technique, and color combination. Among them, the “Green Plumule Brooch” is an integration of more than a thousand Columbia Emerald by unprecedented inlay techniques; the European craftsmen praised her design and said, “You’re without fear.” As remembering TEFAF Maastricht, it was hard for the exhibitors to describe Cindy’s creation with conventional connotations; when seeing the faces showing strong feelings, she guessed “Maybe it should be my creation after 20 years.” The lightweight feather on a fledgling’s wing shines the ever-lasting power of life after multiple forging processes; an insight into Cindy’s design and techniques have found her 15-year life of creation overlapped each other.

A Legacy That Will Last for Generations

Cindy, a woman aged in her 40s, is worldwide famous with titles including a Taiwanese, an entrepreneur, and an artist. Her son, who is studying in The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, can also speak fluent French. Mother and son living in different counties and striving for excellence have eventually reunion at the moment and become the good companion to help each other in their life. “I really had a vision at that time,” said Cindy, who is feeling satisfied. Being not only a persistent role model of his loving son through her insistence on building dreams but also a model example of the Asian people in the world of art jewelry, how will she settle herself? She’s thinking to spend the next 15 years creating a legacy that will last for generations and fostering the new generation to inspire their creativities in designs and even in the operation management. As Cindy can remember the celebration function for her first “Annual Butterfly” accepted by the museum, the moment that she got out of her seat and stood up was like receiving her coronation, and it has strengthened her powerful courage and faith that will lead a new era.

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