Paracosmic artist Ivan Co uses his training as a jeweller to create kinetic artworks of precious metals and glittering gems to calming and mesmerising effect
“To create art that immerses the soul has always been my goal,” says Philippines-based artist and jeweller Ivan Co. “We are at war with distractions and I want my art to help people relearn how to focus. This intention and its proper execution, I believe, brings art to a higher plane.”
Ivan’s kinetic artworks, created with the artist’s profound understanding of mobility and depth, are out of the ordinary. These are bejewelled works of wonder, made of hand-wrought precious metals and semiprecious stones, which swing to their own beat. With scientific precision – using pendulums, axles and intricate balancing points – each piece is a moving sculpture that rocks and swivels to mesmerising effect. Ivan talks about his work having a stress-relieving quality: these sculptures reflect the pushes and pulls and tensions of everyday life, but their elegant movement has a calming and hypnotic effect on the viewer. Energy fields are balanced and audiences are drawn in by their trance-like qualities and exquisite workmanship.
Take Ivan’s remarkable series Mesmer, which, as the title suggests, is intended to mesmerise, to instil in the viewer that sense of calm amid the chaos of our modern world. Then there is Fenestra, a wall-hanging sculpture composed of concentric shapes with pendulums that oscillate at different speeds to draw the audience into a different world; and Persona, a figurative sculpture made contemporary with cursive and linear patterns adorned with glistening gems.
These are ornate, ingenious, mobile creations, involving art and craftsmanship; natural gems are used as weights, their pendulum action engrossing. In a sense, they are collaborations with nature, too, Ivan explains, as the effect of gravity is key in their making and operation. “Every piece is one of a kind,” he says. “Whether tourmaline, or mystic topaz, I weigh each gem to create the perfect balance for a certain movement.”
Like his father and grandfather before him, Ivan, who was born in 1984, became a jeweller. But he found his hands are in need of creating pieces that transcend the limitations of wearability. He was taken with a desire for self-expression through his work and the search for a deeper sense of tranquillity, one he could both experience and share through the poise of the movement of his creations – how they weave, suspend, bend and flow. “I wanted my pieces to provide an escape, as they do for me,” he says. “I stay with a piece for an hour; it helps open the mind. My work has a meditative quality because I lived in a temple for a year, learning self-awareness and discipline. I find this in my work: sometimes my hands just move of their own accord when I am creating.”
Ivan has begun to enjoy significant success outside his homeland, with exhibitions in Singapore, Las Vegas and London. “I am often surprised by the reactions and comments I receive for my work,” he says. “A lot of them are from truly successful and self-actualised individuals, and they tell me that somehow they are reminded of where they came from, of the struggles they went through and overcame, of working towards their triumphs. They relive their own stories when looking at my pieces.”
In today’s uncertain times, the demand for Ivan’s work continues to rise. Take his Rotundum series, each with moving sceptres that flow elegantly, creating a paradigm of serene mobility undisturbed by global strife or mental stress. As he says, “To move rhythmically with the tempo and melody of life is in itself a balancing act.”