Stunningly exquisite glass art creations by renowned French glassblower Jean Claude Novaro, were exhibited for the first time in Saudi Arabia at ANA Special Mall on May 26, under the patronage of Princess Amal bint Majed.
With his passion for glass making that began at the age of 14, Novaro became one of the most famous glass artists in the world today. He has more than 54 years of experience in the field of glass art.
He is a true maitre-verrier — or a ‘King of Glass’ as he has been fondly called — trailblazing the artistic field of glassmaking for other young aspirants to follow. He pioneered more than 20 different creation techniques.
Credited in the Guinness Book of World Records for creating the largest hand-blown coupe, standing heavy and proud at 13.3 kilos, he was also the first to introduce the stunning visual aesthetics of bubbles in his glass works, putting his home-town Biot in the south of France on the art map for spawning a line of artists who popularized the technique he taught.
Crafting works of undeniable technical genius, his glass arts are housed in more than 20 museums worldwide, included not only in prominent corporate and public collections. Famous celebrities like Frank Sinatra, Prince Albert II of Monaco, Robert De Niro, Mike Tyson, and Jacque Chirac amongst countless others have bought his pieces.
While the collection exhibited in Jeddah inclined towards traditional and aquatic themes, Novaro’s artistic profile also boasts some very creatively innovative pieces, which include his famous ‘luminescent pigment’ glass creations — an instant hit at the exhibition!
A resulting product of ten years of hard toil and sweat at the torrid furnace, the luminescent pieces are suggestive of glow-in-the-dark jellyfishes, radiating exuberant bursts of color under a natural or artificial light source.
“We have sold about 20 pieces at the opening night alone. It’s always interesting to see how people in the market react differently. Tastes vary from one country to another. In Saudi Arabia people very much liked the glass works with blue undertones, it somehow appeals to them. In Qatar, they liked the works with gold leaves,” said Bertrand Epaud, business development manager at Novaro International.
“But everyone loved the luminescent pigment glass works. They were very excited about it,” he added.
Some of the exhibited creations have been co-produced by Guy Lequesne who has been working alongside Novaro for 17 years, and has over 40 years of experience in glass making. All the pieces are personally sealed with either the artists’ signature trademark, ensuring exclusivity.
The Emirati royal family of Ras Al Khaimah invited Novaro to design an exclusive range of creations for RAK Ceramics. He now maintains a studio in RAK in addition to the original workshop in his hometown Biot, where each of his creations is handcrafted to flawless beauty and perfection.
The glass master himself shared some of his insights via e-mail, having been unable to attend the exhibition due to unfortunate personal circumstances.
How do you feel about having your first exhibition in Saudi Arabia? Were there any fears or expectations?
“I always enjoy showing my work all over the world. Saudi Arabia is an important country. I am very proud to exhibit here, to bring my passion to such a country.”
How challenging is the process of mentally retaining your artistic vision under intense physical conditions while working with glass?
“It is not a problem for me because when I create a piece the vision has been ready in my mind for years, so I just execute it as a robot. Some pieces took more than 10 years to be clear in my mind.”
Would there be glass creations in the future that would be inspired by Arabian elements?
“Wherever I travel I find new inspiration, and of course, Saudi Arabia is such a symbolic place that it is already inspiring me for new pieces. Islamic art is so beautiful that it will definitely influence my future work.”
What are the things that you find most beautiful?
“I like the diversity of things. All the pieces I create are coming from my heart to make someone happy. Each piece is like a newborn baby to me.”
On a day when you can't find inspiration for your works, what do you see yourself doing?
“I go to my ovens and produce some pieces I like because my life is to produce, not to stay and do nothing.”
For those who missed the exhibition, you can still treat yourself to some elegant glass art by visiting his website at: www.jeanclaudenovaro.info.