Ilgiz Fazulzyanov, who was recently in Paris for the opening of his Gallery, is in a category of his own. His designs, enamelling and gem-setting techniques have made “Ilgiz F.” – his signature – the sole Russian Grand Feu “emailleur” to receive national and international acclaim. His collaboration with the House of Bovet since 2013 has resulted in a series of unique dials that are, like his jewellery pieces, simply staggering.
Let (s)he who has not swooned upon seeing the enamel dials and jewellery creations of Ilgiz Fazulzyanov throw the first precious stone; this master enameller and jewellery-maker from the Republic of Tatarstan in the Russian Federation conveys high-temperature emotions with every piece he imagines, designs and crafts into existence. In Paris last month for the opening of his first own gallery, he delights at being in the city where his “maître absolu” René Lalique lived and excelled at the two styles he prefers: Art Nouveau and Art Deco.
Work inspired by nature
Born in the town of Zelenodolsk in Tatarstan in 1968, Fazulzyanov studied Fine Arts in the Republic’s capital of Kazan. Upon graduation in 1987, his two passions of working with metals and creating colours led him to the crafting of stained-glass windows and, a few years later, the creation of filigree jewellery pieces. With a focus on jewellery and a first studio in Kazan, he decided to complete the techniques he had learned with self-taught skills to include all enamelling styles, stone-cutting and setting. Seeking and finding his own stones was equally important, and “as much as possible close to home.” The bracelet shown here, which took two years to complete, is composed of a Russian amethyst of 140 carats, Russian demantoids found only in the Ural region, and diamonds.
He considers himself a jewellery-maker, “but an artist before all else, with the most important step being my initial drawing.” Wherever he is, he draws: on a plane, at the beach, in his native Tatarstan, outside Moscow (where he has a studio) in his datcha garden that he tends himself, inspired by rain, by birds, by plants… and even by a caterpillar as seen with this gold necklace of Grand Feu enamel flowers sprinkled with diamonds. Like the flowered fabrics of Tatarstan, 90% of his work is inspired by nature, as illustrated again with the Blue Burdocks fired enamel, miniature-painted dial. Executed in an Art Deco style, it decorates the already beautiful Bovet 1822 Amadeo Fleurier 39-mm that can be worn as a wristwatch, on a chain, or used as a table clock.
Beyond the joy of nature lies the “darker” side of the artist/philosopher who reflects upon society and the state of the world, and imagines creations that are politically symbolic. Is it the mysterious “Russian soul”, described by the great classic writers of the 19th century, that enables, even forces him to create breathtaking watch dials and pieces of jewellery? Fired enamel miniature paintings of two eagles that represent competing powers, or the four unique dials of the “Rider of Apocalypse” series representing the four horsemen of the Apocalypse inspire awe. Fazulzyanov created them for the larger 43-mm Amadeo model, destined for men – important men he hopes – who will think about how they can prevent turmoil and destruction whenever they look at their watch to read the time. Bovet has given Fazulzyanov “a free hand” to create the dials, with eight more still to come. Each requires three to four months to complete.
Solo exhibition at the Kremlin Museum
Has working with Bovet timepieces altered his perception of time? Philosophically, Fazulzyanov replies that “people are subjected to the pressure of time, and very few succeed in stopping it.” So who can, and how? “People stop time when they create something; first during the process of creating and again with the resulting oeuvre that is a conservation of the time spent making it. With art, time does not exist, it stops; art opens another space of time, another dimension.”
In 2016, Ilgiz Fazulzyanov had a solo exhibition at the Kremlin Museum, unheard of since Fabergé nearly 100 years ago.
What are his most gratifying moments to date? Winner of many international jewellery prizes including the Grand Prix Design Excellence Award for hot enamelling and stone-setting at the Hong Kong International Jewellery Show in 2011 and 2013, we learn that taking part in an exhibition in Antibes, France, all the way back in 1998 (rave press reports named him “the King of Enamel”) remains one of his first great satisfactions. His three-month, summer 2016 solo exhibition at the Kremlin Museum in Moscow, unheard of since Fabergé nearly 100 years ago, was “obviously another”. And of course, while represented in Moscow, London and Tokyo, the opening of his first own Gallery in the world –“and in Paris!”– is yet another. Situated near the Elysée Presidential Palace, it is the perfect location to present a Bovet 1822 Amadeo Fleurier 43 mm with a sublime Apocalypse dial to a Head of State.