IN 2019, LOUIS VUITTON INTRODUCED ITS ARTYCAPUCINES PROJECT, WHICH INVITES LEADING INTERNATIONAL ARTISTS TO REIMAGINE ITS CAPUCINES TOTE – NAMED AFTER THE PARISIAN STREET ON WHICH THE BRAND OPENED ITS FIRST BOUTIQUE AND KNOWN FOR ITS EXTENSIVE CRAFTSMANSHIP. FOR THE SECOND EDITION – LIMITED TO 200 PIECES WORLDWIDE PER DESIGN – HITTING SELECTED STORES (INCLUDING THE ONE HERE AT NGEE ANN CITY) ON OCT 30, THE MAISON ROPES IN FOR THE FIRST TIME TWO ASIAN NAMES: XINJIANG-BORN ZHAO ZHAO AND BEIJINGER LIU WEI. HERE, AN EXCLUSIVE WITH THESE CHINESE LUMINARIES ON THEIR ART AND HOW THEY’VE TRANSFORMED AN ARTISANAL HANDBAG INTO A TRUE OBJET D’ART. KENG YANG SHUEN REPORTS.
Hailed early in his career as a possible successor to Ai Weiwei, Zhao Zhao is know for imbuing his mixed works with a vein of anti-authoritarianism and an astute observation of life. Moving at age 19 from his hometown of Xinjiang toeiwei, Zhao Zhao is known for imbuing his mixed media works with Beijing, which he describes as “the only place where you could feel connected to how China was operating” and would thus help him understand himself, he cites the idea of migration as fundamental to his work. “Many of my works are about the relationship between a person and his or her fate, about life and death, and about the things you are destined to experience again and again", he says. (That's a picture of his studio oppsite). His Artycapucines collaboration is based off In Extremis No. 3, a metal sculpture he created in 2018 to make permanent the illusory stage between life and death, inspired by a deadboration the artwork’s acat on the road. The result is far less morbid and in fact one of the most complex of the six in the collaboration. Taking after the artwork's abstract marbled pattern, the bag’s exterior is made up of 353 patches of leather, each individually laser-cut and made of any one of five types of leather that’s been embroidered, printed or worked into relief. Meticulously sewn together, the tactile composite is then used to cover the entire surface of a PM-sized Capucines - as if Zhao Zhao's masterpiece had been moulded to fit the bag precisely.
Beijing-based Liu We is one of the most-sought-after figures in China’s post-Cultural Revolution art scene for his eclectic body of multimedia work that address various aspects of contemporary life. (He calls cities “humanity’s greatest inventions" because of all the real-life activities that take place within them. “To me, art isn’t something beautiful or luxurious; it should derive from and connect real life,he says.) Liu’s design for Artycapucines was adapted from Microworld, a lager - scale installation filled with abstract aluminium sculptures he presented at the Venice Biennale last year - intended to be a commentary on the lost mystique of the microscopic world due to advancements in technology. (His works often feature metal moulded to connote an almost kinetic energy as seen above.) “It was more important to make a bag that addressed uniqueness rather than simply beauty,” says Liu. “A bag is almost like a place to store one’s own unique microworld, even if I beauty in itself. "The silver-hued leather panels on his Artycapucines are a reference to the original sculptures – they were thermo-moulded or affixed with rivets onto the bag's exterior. Additional references to Liu's artwork include the structural Plexiglas handle – held in place with metal spheres – that adds a retro-futuristic touch.