Among the 75-plus artists exhibiting at the Bangkok Art Biennale 2018, there are some distinguished names who have collaborated with world renowned fashion houses. Others have managed to put themselves on the map by creating products that are their signatures.
/// Thailand ///
Story: Nawapat Dusdul, Singhanart Nakpongphun /// Photography: Rithirong Chanthongsuk, Soopakorn Srisakul, Singhanart Nakpongphun
Over the years, so many collaborations have taken place to the extent that they are blurring the lines between haute couture and visual art. It comes as no surprise that here and now the sky is the limit. When beautiful works of art have left the confines of gallery life and landed in the atelier of a fashion house, the results can be far-reaching. In this presentation, we at Living ASEAN use the symbol x to designate a collaboration.
01 | Christian Dior x Lee Bul
54-year-old South Korean artist Lee Bul is widely known for her works in many artistic disciplines, among them sculpture and installation art. Driven by a passion for modern art and design, she lets her talent shine in everything she does. The artist regularly collaborates with the European luxury goods company Christian Dior. Some of the highlights of her contributions include Dior Lady Art #2, which came out in the fall of 2017. Interpreting design and manufacturing techniques in a different way, Lee Bul affixes pieces of plexiglass mirrors to the original Lady Dior handbag to imitate the appearance of a single sheet of broken glass. The new couture technique evokes memories of Lee Bul’s “Cella”, her display for the Miss Dior Exhibition at the Grand Palais Paris in 2013. Our editor for art and culture Singhanart Nakpongphun was there to see it and came away very impressed. As he put it, “Cella inspired a sense of peace in an unusual way. Same objects are reflected multiple times in multiple directions. I stood there motionless for quite some time.”
In this video clip, Lee Bul gives an interview about how she works. Every morning, the Seoul-born artist keeps a detailed log of her activities. It keeps track of the process of developing until she puts the finishing touches to her work of art.
Those interested in Lee Bul’s way of conveying ideas through art shouldn’t miss Diluvium, her architectural installation for the Bangkok Art Biennale 2018. The striking exhibit crafted of multiple metal frames wrapped in silver foil tapes is currently on view at the East Asiatic Building that’s well known for its old world charm.
02 | Louis Vuitton x Yayoi Kusama
Mention polka dots, and the name Yayoi Kusama springs to mind. The Japanese legend was among the first artists to have collaborated with the French fashion house and luxury brand Louis Vuitton. She began working with the atelier of Louis Vuitton in 2012, the most visible result of which being the Louis Vuitton – Yayoi Kusama collection. At the time, bold yet playful polka dots artwork, also known as “Dots Infinity”, began appearing on Louis Vuitton’s Vernis handbags. It wasn’t long before other bestselling models followed suit, most notably Speedy and Neverfull monogram canvas series, not to mention shoes, wallets, scarves … you name it. Yayoi Kusama is also known for her work in store decoration and brand awareness ideas.
Flashback: Here’s a video clip from the fashion blog stylerumer recorded on the day Yayoi Kusama attended a product launch at Louis Vuitton on Fifth Avenue, New York back in 2012.
Handbags, shoes, and clothing aside, it’s time to appreciate the beauty of installation works by the “Queen of polka dots”. Her entries into the Bangkok Art Biennale 2018, which include the Red Pumpkin with black polka dots, and the Silver Pumpkin with multiple color dots, are currently on view at Central World and Siam Paragon shopping malls.
03 | Prada x Elmgreen & Dragset
The artist duo, Michael Elmgreen of Denmark and Ingar Dragset of Norway, are widely known for creating “Prada Marfa”, an installation featuring a small Prada store somewhere in the middle of a desert in Taxas. Despite it being located just 42 kilometers from the nearest airport, exotic travels take a good three hours to reach it. The crux of the matter is a strong message about capitalism and how it affects the way people think. The visual art piece is created with Prada support.
For the Bangkok Art Biennale 2018, Elmgreen and Dragset present “Zero”, an 8-meter-tall sculptural installation made to look like the circumference of a swimming pool set at right angles. The thought provoking artwork is on show in front of the East Asiatic Building on the Chao Phraya River for the duration of the festival.
04 | Marina Abramovic
A pioneer in contemporary art, Marina Abramovic is widely known for “The Artist Is Present”, an endurance performance that changes the way art sends a message to the active audience. Her first live performance exhibition debuted at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) New York in 2010. During the silent show, museum visitors took turns sitting across the table from Marina staring into her eyes for hours. The live performances took 736 hours and 30 minutes from start to finish. It was the focal point of a series of art exhibits designed to call attention to social issues.
Her iconic works gave the Italian fashion house Gucci an inspiration to host similar events as a means of promoting an exhibition at the Yuz Museum in Shanghai that runs until December 16, 2018. The luxury fashion brand presents its versions of “The Artist Is Present” curated by Maurizio Cattlean. In so doing, Gucci has installed gigantic art walls in the biggest cities across the world featuring the portrait of Marina Abramovic that was taken at the MoMA live performance in New York in 2010.
Besides the big names mentioned above, there are some homegrown artists who have become involved in the fashion world. Jitsing Somboon, formerly creative director at the Thai clothing brand “Playhound, is exhibiting his work titled “Paths of Faith” as part of the Bangkok Art Biennale 2018. The artist uses live performance art as a means of telling stories about Thai life and religion. The focal point of his work is a collection of white overcoats with “Faith” in either Thai, English, or Chinese stenciled on their back. The exhibition is on view at the entrance to the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, Wat Phra Chetupon at Tha Tian. The overcoats are given for people to wear on top of other clothing as they enter an area dedicated to religious purposes in the temple interior.
The show would be incomplete without a couple of cool T-shirts. The up-and-coming artist Komkrit Tepthian also debuts a print T-shirt collection as part of his entry into the Bangkok Art Biennale 2018. The white short-sleeved casual top features simple drawings of his Giant Twins installation art stenciled on its front. The image tells stories of long-established friendship in a humorous way. Here’s the link to the artist’s fan page if you want one: Komkrit Tepthian : Artist
Whether you’re interested in the arts, fashion, or design, there are plenty of inspiring shows awaiting your visit. The Bangkok Art Biennale 2018 is going on now until next February 3. Featuring more than 200 masterpieces by international and homegrown artists, the inaugural art festival is being held at 20 different locations throughout the capital city. This time you don’t have to travel far to appreciate the beauty and the power of art. It’s the opportunity you can’t afford to miss. Art lovers. mark your calendar!