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    Coinciding with the fifth edition of Frieze LA, Philia is delighted to present MATERIA PERPETUA, the gallery’s inaugural exhibition in Los Angeles (USA), featuring a collection of limited-edition onyx works by ten of the gallery’s international designers. Staged in the striking, never-before seen studio of designer Giampiero Tagliaferri, who will also create a one-off piece for the occasion, the exhibition marks a pivotal moment in Philia’s history – the launch of Philia Editions, a new initiative offering the gallery’s artists the opportunity to produce sculptural designs in limited editions and in specific materials as part of bespoke thematic collections.

    More than a display of creative skills and in line with Philia’s distinct philosophical approach, MATERIA PERPETUA serves as a platform for profound reflection and thematic exploration, resulting in unique works that seamlessly blend artistic expression with a palpable, emotional response. The inaugural collection delves into the concept of eternity and its paradoxical origins. The title itself encapsulates this exploration, with ‘Materia’ alluding to both maternity and materiality, and ‘Perpetua’ signifying eternity. This paradox is intricately woven into each work, fusing spontaneous creation with a rich historical lineage.

    The chosen material, onyx, adds another layer of significance with its historical reverence. In ancient Egypt, it was a prized stone for sculpture; in the Roman Empire, it was used for crafting intaglios; and a mention of onyx can also be traced to the bible where it is said to be found on Aaron’s breastplate. The participating artists, commissioned to create within the thematic framework of MATERIA PERPETUA examine the tensions between tradition and contemporaneity, using the semi-precious stone to explore questions such as whether one necessarily affiliates with the material’s long history or liberates oneself through contemporary lines and usage.

    Exhibiting designers include Andres Monnier (Mexico) who embraced the challenges of working with Onyx, which he describes as ‘the glass of rock,’ to produce a selection of pieces, including a mirror with a sculpted base. Pietro Franceschini (Italy) presents a delicately polished chair made from the material. Similarly, Karu (Melanie Murata) (USA) introduces a Seijaku chair, inspired by the feeling of stillness and tranquillity Murata experienced during her time in Kyoto, Japan. The chair is a fusion of the detailing and careful craftsmanship found in Japanese joinery, paired with the imperfections of Onyx as a raw material. Victoria Yakusha (Ukraine) and Henry Wilson (Australia) both contribute to the exhibition with unique pieces – Wilson displays a small curvature side table, while Paul Matter (India), has crafted a tall, organic curved sculptural piece. Pierre de Valck (Belgium) presents his Axe Table, a scaled-up version of an original Palaeolithic hand axe, one of the longest-used tools in human history dating back around 1.6milion years ago. He describes the work as ‘reconnecting us with our common heritage as a species.’ Finally, the design duo Studiopepe (Italy), showcases a crafted table, and Morghen Studio (Italy) enriches the collection with a site-specific monumental brass chandelier titled Dafne. Inspired by the Umbrella Trees of Africa, this work serves as a tribute to the well-known Greco-Roman myth and introduces a sense of grandeur to this thematic exploration.