21 September 2014

Jewellery: Breathing New life into an age old technique

 - Saturday, 24 September 2011, 00:00

by Marie Benoit

Andrea Cagnetti, who works under the name Akelo, is an old soul living in the 21st century. He lives in a private world where he can deeply focus on his passion of creating beautiful jewels and objects wrought with 3,000 year-old techniques. Edited by Marie Benoit

Through a ritual of intense meditation and experimentation, Akelo, an entirely self-taught goldsmith, has become a modern day virtuoso of the extraordinary methods developed by his ancestors, the original artisans of Etruscan jewellery.

It is not surprising that Akelo has evolved into a Renaissance man. He was born in Corchiano (a village in the Viterbo province), which is built upon the ruins of the legendary Etruscan city of Fescennia, where he was raised on a steady diet of nature’s beauty. As a child his teachers would take him for walks among the Etruscan graves, feeding his imagination about the lost civilization and its artistic skills.

After viewing his work, it is easy to believe that the spirit of a great goldsmith of that ancient time engaged the soul of Akelo as he fantasized about finding their hidden gold treasures. As fate would have it, an important Etruscan temple was discovered buried very near the land belonging to his grandmother and her ancestors.

Akelo’s education as a teenager and young adult would carry him closer to his destiny of becoming a master goldsmith working in the technique of granulation. In school and after his formal education ended, he focused on Greek and Latin literature, the tools and techniques of his lost ancestors, and the alchemy and art of goldsmithing.

Of all his singular experiences, Akelo credits the revelations inspired by The Secret Book, written by a mysterious alchemist named Artephius about whom little is known.

Legend has it that Artephius was part of a spiritual brotherhood devoted to unravelling the mysteries of the hidden world. His life and work was a great influence for Akelo to provide the commitment required to create his own body of work.

After a successful career as a graphic artist living in the hustle and bustle of Rome, and after many years of studying ancient goldsmithing techniques, Akelo returned to the little village of Corchiano. He left city life behind to fulfill his destiny as a goldsmith. There the peace and quiet and the inspiration of his Etruscan ancestors allowed him focus on his work.

To become a master, you need deep Zen-like concentration, devotion, and true intention of motivation. Only inspired by sincere passion can one be empowered to endure the seclusion and practice required to achieve such a level of excellence. Even after a serious accident damaged his arm and threatened to end Akelo’s career, he persisted and never gave up on continuing his journey. His near tragedy perhaps gave him an even greater sensitivity and heightened awareness of his love for creating with gold and its expression through his work.

Akelo’s body of work is based on myths, legends and symbols, taken from an ancestral repertory and elaborated through a personal cryptic language drawn from a knowledge of alchemy coming from his indepth studies of ancient texts.

A jewel by Andrea Cagnetti or Akelo, became part of the permanent collection of the Newark Museum in New York. It is the latest in a series of acquisitions of this artist’s works, confirming the great international appreciation of the Italian artist, known for his outstanding jewels.

This particular work of art, called Hoedus II and dated 1996, (pictured left) is a golden pendant in the shape of an eight arm cross with a double ring for suspension. The perpendicular arms present a decoration in plain wire and small golden globes and enclose at their upper end a flower in red cloisonné enamel; the transversal arms present a decoration realised in granulation with triangles and rosettes. The central sheet gold, bordered with a fine cord, exhibits an inner decoration realised using filigree and granulation.

Magazines and specialized websites have dedicated a great number of publications and reviews to Andrea Cagnetti, underlining his talent and stylistic originality. His works have been put on display in several exhibitions around the world.

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