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Tuesday, May 21, 2002

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Viva Italia

`Boutique Italia', which was recently opened in Shenoy Nagar, beckons art aficionados with its unique collection of bric-a-brac.

THE EXQUISITE handicrafts of Italy are showcased in more than a 100 ways at Chennai's newly-opened `Boutique Italia'. The sculpted perfection comes through in the long-stemmed Murano roses and the translucence of blue and yellow-streaked Murano glass vases — each a paean to the fluidity and mystical magic of glass. It is also evident in the delicate clusters of tiny Capodimonte clay roses, adorning bouquets and posies, dressing table sets and bowls, investing the most mundane of functional items with ethereal loveliness. And, it is reflected in the ivory-tinted resin and marble lampshades, celebrating the shepherdesses and harp boys of European classicism, in this Swarovski-embedded porcelain art deco pieces, which are at once whimsical, intimate and beautiful. The individualistic and tasteful collection has been personally chosen by Boutique Italia's Vijay Jhaver from the remote hamlets around Florence, Naples and Venice where cottage handicrafts are still a way of life.

Every hand-shaped and moulded Murano glass piece, whether functional or decorative, is a work of art, an expression of the infinite nuances of coloured glass and its superb malleability. The `Boutique Italia' Murano art collection includes a range of brilliantly conceived clock faces, photo frames, flowers and grapes, bowls and vases. Colours mingle and swirl on vases and bowls, glint on plates and trays and on photo frames inset with variegated coloured glass. The creative process can be unique too. In the Virgilio de Biassi clock collection, for instance, the glass is cold during the production process, cut into unusual geometric shapes and after a12-hour fusion cycle emerges as a vibrant work of art.Entirely hand-shaped, baked and hand-painted, Capodimonte clay flowers are synonymous with Italian handcraft excellence. Each petal is wafer-thin and perfectly moulded, and the tiny roses, geraniums and tulips are spattered over vases and bowls, or bunched together to embellish wall hangings, floral bouquets and artefacts.

From Naples and Florence come a range of porcelain and ceramic planters, vases, consoles, mirror sets, resin and marble lamp stands, reflecting the Baroque flamboyance of the European mid-18th Century classical tradition. Also, a celebration of Italian handicrafts, are animal forms and objects, which meld porcelain, Capodimonte and Swarovski crystals. The fishes, birds, candle stands, locks and clock faces glitter with the magic of Swarovski crystals, coloured glass and even a touch of gold. Each is a tiny masterpiece, a perfect give-away for special occasions.

For eclectic Chennai with its growing number of aficionados of the best in European art objects and bric-a-brac, `Boutique Italia' at 41, Gajapathy Street, Second Floor, Shenoy Nagar, provides a happy hunting ground.


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