ARISTIDE NAJEAN Murano, the Glass Cathedral
Aristide Najean shapes the glass to which he gives life – and color – into ample, sinuous, mostly organic objects. His work is often considered the ultimate artistic expression. A creative mind at heart, he started painting and drawing at a very young age, before studying architecture and artistic anatomy. He was 27 when he discovered Murano glass, in 1986.
His existence changed for the better when his path crossed that of master glassmaker Mario Badioli, who welcomed him into his workshop, and taught him his craft. Aristide Najean went on to work with the biggest names in the design world, including Philippe Starck, thanks to whom he designed pieces for Baccarat, or with the Royal Monceau in Paris, or the Palazzina Grassi in Venice. As fate would have it, the two artists met in Murano, the small island North of Venice, accessible via vaporetto, famous for its castle, gardens and, most of all, glasswork, ever since its apogee between the 16th and 18th century.
Najean has now settled on the precious island of Murano, where his work has helped revitalize Venetian glasswork, and has moved into Master Alfredo Barbini’s workshop, which he’s renovated entirely. Shaped into a true glass cathedral, the space opened in October 2015. Leclaireur couldn’t resist visiting the artist in his haven.
Here, a piano… There, canvases and glass-pieces, among which candelabras and lamps whose curves seem designed by Nature itself. On the ground, complex drawings demonstrate the artist’s untameable creativity. Inside this giant masterpiece of a building, a supreme ode to creation, the French artist can be seen blowing and firing glass. Under the large brick archways that harbor his ovens, glass unfolds into exuberant, joyous, somewhat whimsical shapes. From candleholders to majestic chandeliers, transcended glass flows down from the ceiling, turning into a cascade of pure light, by nightfall. Najean’s pieces astonish, with their proportions, and their countless ramifications that come together in a perfectly mastered chaos, promoting lamps beyond their utilitarian object status. In his hands, glass becomes art and turn what dreams are made of, into a grandiose reality.