While some take more convoluted routes to conceptual art, the artist Rolf Sachs’ collaboration with De Beers is reassuringly to the point. Asked to devise a window installation for the self-styled Jeweller of Light’s winter season, Sachs simply referred to the beguiling nature of light in an organic form: candle flame. ‘The candle is an everyday object, yet its light has soul and radiates warmth,’ he told us at the brand’s Old Bond Street boutique launch.
Sachs’ Breathing Light installation conjures the notion of windows veiled in frost, as though swiped clear by a curious onlooker drawn to the warm glow within, buffing the window with his hand to get a glimpse. What he sees are little films of gently ‘breathing’, flickering candles, played out on perfectly poised iPads.
The artist’s focus on soft, diffused candlelight is a thoughtful narrative foil because diamonds, painstakingly polished to perfection, are known for their sharp, bright, prismatic light.
And yet, the two have more in common than we might at first think, as Sachs pointed out on the night: ‘Diamonds are steeped in history and tradition and possess an innate natural beauty. That inspired me to give the candle an eternal life of its own,’ he explained of his idea. ‘Also, each has magical qualities that can’t be truly reproduced: the candlelight humble in its origins, the diamond light unique in its rare properties and careful crafting. With both, I think the contrasting attraction of frost and flame is timeless and intriguing.’
It’s a witty take on collective notions of seeking warmth – emotionally or physically – during the winter holiday season. As Francois Delage, the De Beers boss who brought Sachs on board, says: ‘We wanted an idea that translated light in a new form and design but we also wanted to collaborate with an artist who would add a sense of joy.’
-By Caragh McKay