Cold Sweat

To present the book Cold Sweat, Estonian artist Kadri Mälk was in Portugal on November 5, at Brotéria’s Sala dos Couros, invited by PIN – Portuguese Association for Contemporary Jewellery.

Kadri Mälk (1958) is a jewellery artist, coordinator of the Jewellery Department at the Estonian Academy of Arts in Tallinn, where she is now professor emeritus. In 1986 she obtained a degree in Jewellery at that institution and studied painting. Later, she studied Gemology at Lahti Institute of Design in Finland, under Esko Timonen’s direction, and trained at Bernd Munsteiner’s lapidary studio in Germany. Mälk has participated in exhibitions worldwide and has four published books about her work, collection and her teacher, the jewellery artist Leili Kuldkepp.

The vast knowledge and taste for materials have marked Mälk’s mystical and spiritual work. She uses different materials, metals such as gold and silver, animal skins and fur, pearls and precious stones that she considers to have specific properties, with a profile not only physical – «black tourmaline is a protective stone. When I take it off me, I feel helpless.» (Kadri Mälk)[1]; or solid minerals, such as shungite, known as “black gold” and which can only be found in Shunga, a small village in Karelia or St Petersburg. Mälk is particularly fond of rarities – «Mole, the animal’s fur. I have it from war time, from my grandmother’s coat. When nobody could buy anything, she made a coat out of the fur and then one day she cut it into patches and sent them to me, wrapped in tissue paper. And I started to think what I could do with them.»(Kadri Mälk)[2]

Through Kadri Mälk and õhuLoss – a collective of jewellery artists of which she is a member – a long collaboration between Portuguese and Estonian jewellers has been developed, materialised in the exchange of teachers and students between the Estonian Academy of Arts in Tallinn, Ar.Co (Centro de Arte e Comunicação Visual) in Lisbon, and ESAD (Escola Superior de Artes e Design) in Matosinhos. And also, by several collective exhibitions in both countries. Mälk’s relationship with Portugal is so close that, in 2003, the then Portuguese president of the republic Jorge Sampaio awarded her the Order of Merit during his state visit to Estonia.

More recently, in 2021, Kadri Mälk was part of the Scientific Council of the First Lisbon Contemporary Jewellery Biennial, between September 16 and November 20, 2021, supported by DGArtes. The name chosen was Cold Sweat, a name influenced by the pandemic atmosphere[3]. In one of the colloquiums, she presented a text about fear, regarding the Biennial’s main theme «Body Fear Protection». This text is part of the book Cold Sweat which will be available for sale from December 21 at PIN. The book has the catalogue of the Suor Frioexhibition and the articles from the colloquia «Corpo Medo Proteção» and «Coroa Preciosa».[4]

Mälk made a positive balance of the Biennial – «The pandemic had, nevertheless, a positive influence on jewellery. People had time to think about what they were doing and time to work. Fear is a two-sided coin. Fear can be negative, but also positive. I try to underline the positive side of fear to strengthen the spirit. Some people freeze, others create things. It is spiritual! It’s a very strong notion. I created several pieces from this emotion. The Biennial was really important for the participating artists and for jewellery worldwide. At that time, I did my participation in video, because I couldn’t be physically present, as I was in a wheelchair.» (Kadri Mälk)[5]

Mälk created a jewel for this specific context, called Cold Sweat – the same name as the Biennial -, exhibited at the Temporary Exhibitions Gallery of Museu de São Roque, and is now part of the private collection of jeweller Tereza Seabra. Furthermore, also part of the Biennial project, the õhuLoss collective made up of six jewellery artists (Piret Hirv, Kristiina Laurits, Villu Plink, Tanel Veenre and Eve Margus-Villems), which Kadri Mälk has been a member of since 1999, presented an exhibition at Bróteria.

Kadri Mälk’s contribution to the Biennial was not limited to her creation and collaboration in the Scientific Council. Mälk bought the limited edition jewellery (six numbered pieces) that the Swiss artist Christoph Zellweger created to support the event, which is the cover of the book Cold Sweat, showing her willingness to support PIN – Portuguese Association for Contemporary Jewellery, the Biennial’s organising body. – «I bought this piece because I like to support PIN. I wanted number 5 (the fifth piece). I know that the first one was bought by collector Susan Cummings, director of the Art Jewelry Forum in San Francisco, and that the second one was bought by collector, artist and gallerist Tereza Seabra.»

Kadri Mälk clearly has a very special appreciation for Portuguese jewellers. At her most recent solo exhibition in our country, Post-Testament in 2019, curated by Cristina Filipe, chair of the PIN board and the Biennial’s general curator, at the Antiquário Manuel Castilho, Lisbon, Kadri showed great delight at the event’s organisation. And she always has high praises for Portugal’s jewellery galleries. «Galveria Reverso, for instance… keeping a gallery like this, all this time in Portugal, that’s a proper achievement by Paula Crespo, it’s special. It’s a miracle! And it has to do with consistency. Paula Crespo and other gallery owners, like Tereza Seabra, are selective. They know what they want. And they are very flexible. When they organise exhibitions, artists can put a video in the room as a complement, or do another kind of installation. They accept different things.» [6]




[1] Kadri Mälk in conversation with Jini Afonso. Lisbon, November 4, 2022.

[2] Kadri Mälk in conversation with Jini Afonso. Lisbon, November 4, 2022.

[3] ‘You get cold sweat on your skin when you are confronted to something awful that is going to happen, that you can’t avoid. You get cold sweat when you suddenly feel afraid, feel fear and loneliness coming. Helplessness. A cold sweat is a sign of a sudden, significant stress, which could be physical or psychological in origin, or a combination of the two.’ Mälk K. (2022) In C. Filipe (Ed.) Cold Sweat Suor Frio (p. 448). PIN; MUDE/CML; MSR/SCML; UCP/EA/CITAR.

[4] ‘The book Cold Sweat — the title of the 1st Lisbon Contemporary Jewellery Biennial — under the editorial coordination of Cristina Filipe, brings together the catalogue of the homonymous exhibition and the articles produced during the colloquia ‘Body Fear Protection’, ‘Precious Crown’ and the ‘Closure’, which took place during the Biennial.The visual narrative of around two hundred and twenty contemporary works by seventy-two international artists from different disciplines — mostly jewellery, but also photography, sculpture, design, film and performance – presented in situ during the exhibition in the Gallery, Church and Museu de São Roque and in the Museu da Farmácia, in close dialogue with their respective collections and with the collections of the Historical Archive of the Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa and the Casa Ásia – Coleção Francisco Capelo, culminates in a unique set of thirteen academic texts by researchers from various disciplines — history of art and design, philosophy, theology, gemmology, anthropology — whose multiple discourses invite the reader to reflect on contemporary artistic production around issues related to the pandemic and post-pandemic period we are experiencing.’ in C. Filipe (Ed.). (2022). Cold Sweat Suor Frio (backcover). PIN; MUDE/CML; MSR/SCML; UCP/EA/CITAR.

[5] Kadri Mälk in conversation with Jini Afonso. November 4, 2022.

[6] Kadri Mälk in conversation with Jini Afonso. November 4, 2022.

Jini Afonso completed her undergraduate education and Master's degree in Philosophy at NOVA University of Lisbon, has a post-graduate degree in Information Sciences from the Lusófona University of Humanities and Technologies, and a Master's degree in Curatorship and Art Criticism from the University of the Arts London, Chelsea College of Art & Design. She has been involved in projects as co-curator: Brilliant Sound at Late at Tate, Tate Britain and One Night Stands Projects (1,2,3) at Wimbledon College, London, and as assistant curator: Project Flags at Kunstfack School of Art and Design, Stockholm, Berlin Fair of Contemporary Jewellery and the project Impressions on Contemporary Jewellery in Nuremberg. She was director of the Documentation Centre at INETE, a trainer in Communication and Information Management at the same institute and a Philosophy and Psychology teacher in different Secondary Schools. In India, she trained in Yoga at the Yoga Vidya School, the Kundalini Course at the Agama Yoga School and did a specialization in Meditation with Dev Narayan; and in Switzerland she specialized in Yoga Therapy with Doug Keller. In Portugal, she did the Introductory Training to Somatic Experience by Somatic - School of Body Psychotherapies, the Diploma and Expert Courses of Clinical, Transpersonal and Regressive Hypnosis by Transpersonal International and the Training of dISPAr, ISPA's Theatre Group. Jini is a hypnotherapist, trainer in Clinical Hypnosis, Yoga and Meditation teacher and Art critic. She is particularly interested in the theories of Performing Arts (with emphasis on Physical Theatre and Improvisation), Psychodrama, travelling, poetry and photography.

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