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Art Meets Jewellery: Inside Bulgari’s Stunning SERPENTIform Exhibition

From contemporary art pieces to embroidered costumes, how many serpents can you spot? In collaboration with Bulgari.

Six decades later and counting, Bulgari continues to surprise us with its modern and decadent interpretations of their iconic Serpenti. We wondered how it was creatively possible to be continually inspired by a single reptile – the serpenti (serpent in Italian) that brought the Italian jeweller to international fame. Intrigued doesn’t even begin to cut it. And our answer to that question? Bulgari’s swanky “SERPENTIform” exhibition at the Art Science Museum, where the serpenti takes centre stage in the plethora of displays.

Upon arrival, one is greeted with a slithering, shimmering serpenti that runs throughout the different rooms of the exhibition. Not real, of course. A clever digital sleight of hand, the video projection features 500 mapped scales as the screens. We’d prefer to think that it is the serpenti trailing along with us as we moved from room to room.

The first room pays homage to antiquities from the East and West in the early centuries. From a statue of young Hercules battling a snake to one of Buddha and a naga, it is eye opening to realise the influence of the serpenti on the different myths and legends of different cultures and how each culture may have a different perspective of it. Guess you learn something new every day!

More facets of the Serpenti continue to unfold in the next two rooms where leading artists like Joan Miro, Marc Chagall, Alexander Clader and Keith Haring pay their own tribute to the reptile. Renowned photographers like Robert Mapplethorpe and Helmut Newton join the list, with their images hanging high above our heads in a room that shines light on Bulgari’s muses then and now, from Elizabeth Taylor to Bella Hadid.

The fourth installation, however, was where we couldn’t put the camera down – and we weren’t the only ones. Here, housed in neon-lit frames, were incredibly detailed costumes from the set of The Last Emperor (1987), Stargate (1994) and Viper Tail (1930). An evening gown styled with Medusa-inspired headewear, once worn by Lady Gaga, makes an appearance as well. Snap, snap, snap.

If the costume room had us clicking the shutter, the final room definitely has us drooling. Bulgari saved the best for last as we came face to face with precious pieces from the maison’s own private and archival collections that date all the way back to the fifties and onwards. Think scaly rings that coil around the fingers, bracelets that reveal a dial at the Serpenti’s mouth and Serpenti necklaces fit for an ancient Egyptian queen.

Stunning and thoroughly insightful, “SERPENTIform” gives all who enter a look into the inner workings of Bulgari by connecting high jewellery with art and design. Whether you’re mad about art, jewellery or both, the exhibition is a must-go to understand how the serpenti can be interpreted so differently through so many mediums and how it remains an eternal spring of inspiration for Bulgari through the decades.

The “SERPENTIform” Exhibition runs from now to the 15 October 2017 at the Art Science Museum, Singapore. For more information, click here. In the meantime, see some of our favourite moments from the exhibition – including a very cute Alicia Vikander whom we spotted on the opening day – in the gallery above.

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