For an exhibition at his London studio, Ron Arad has turned a chance observation and an idle pastime into an artwork – or is it a process?
When Ron Arad thinks of diamonds, it isn’t jewellery, engagement rings, or their high value that he’s thinking of; rather, the Israel-born, UK-based designer considers their strength.
When asked by diamond company Diacore to design an artwork incorporating diamonds, he recalled an incident at a Naples train station in which a man was etching drawings on to the glass window of the train using a diamond ring – an evocative means of expression that captured the material properties of the diamond.
“There is lots of love and hate scratched on train windows by people with diamond rings,” Arad says. “If you light up the windows, you will see a lot of drawings, a lot of people expressing themselves, for good or for bad.” The resulting artwork, titled Last Train, is a curious piece that challenges the delineation between artistic process and artwork.
Arad and his studio developed a machine that controls a realistic cast of the designer’s fist adorned with a diamond ring that etches drawings – made using an associated iPad app – into glass. The work – some of which was first shown at last year’s Venice Art Biennale – is on display and for sale at his London studio, where a number of well-known artists have contributed to the project.
Grayson Perry drew a diagram of what he thinks goes on inside a designer’s head; Antony Gormley sketched one of his strange, isolated figures; Cornelia Parker simply wrote “One day this glass will break”; and Ai Weiwei, still confined to China, contributed via the app from Beijing. Some viewers regard Last Train itself to be the artwork, while others regard the glass etchings that result from the process to be the artworks.
“I don’t care,” Ron Arad says. “Whatever makes people happy, I’m happy. So long as it makes them think.”
The exhibition runs from 27 June to 25 July 2014 at Ron Arad Studio
Watch our video interview with Ron Arad, in which he discusses his Tom Vac chair