PARIS – As a sign of its continued focus on China, Dior will open a retrospective of its flagship Dior Lady Art Project in Shenzhen on Saturday, featuring reinterpretations of the iconic handbag by major contemporary Chinese artists.
Zhang Huan and Li Songsong are among 12 artists participating in the sixth edition of Dior Lady Art, which will be unveiled in Shanghai in November.
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In the meantime, visitors can get a glimpse of their creations at the “Art ‘N Dior” exhibition, which will be held at the Shenzhen Museum of Contemporary Art and Town Planning from Saturday to October 20.
Dior has stepped up large-scale events in China since the country emerged from the coronavirus pandemic last year, as Chinese consumers have limited their travel and are spending more at home.
After a rehearsal of his pre-fall collection in Shanghai in April, and a fine jewelry event in Chengdu in June, the French luxury house turned to art with the Shenzhen exhibition, rooted in the history of founder Christian Dior, who was a gallery owner before becoming a couturier.
The exhibition will include a section dedicated to the traveling exhibition “Lady Dior As Seen By”, with pieces by Wu Jian’an, Zhang Ding, Liu Yue, Liang Manqi and Cai Ling.
In the meantime, a retrospective will retrace each edition of Dior Lady Art, which this year will also present the work of Manal Al Dowayan, Gisela Colón, Johan Creten, Genieve Figgis, Gigisue, Antonin Hako, Leonhard Hurzlmeier, Yukimasa Ida, Daisuke Ohba and Lina Iris Victor.
A room dedicated to photography will present the work of the winners of the Dior Prize for Photography and Visual Arts for Young Talents and the Dior Prizes, The Art of Color, which reward emerging talents at the prestigious Rencontres photography festival. from Arles.
Zhang and Li have been collaborating with the house since 2008, when they participated in an exhibition on “Christian Dior and Chinese artists” at the UCCA Contemporary Art Center in Beijing.
“It is very gratifying that the work flourishes in the country where it was cultivated and that art becomes a fashion trend in China,” Zhang said in an email.
Known for working with water, blood, ice and ash in provocative performances that push his physical and psychological limits, the artist said he hoped to infuse “a little bit of soul into the fashion of luxury ”with his four creations for the Dior Lady Art project.
One of them was inspired by a wood carving of a door panel presented in his solo exhibition “My Winter Palace” at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.
After returning to China in 2005 after eight years abroad, Zhang switched from performance to sculpture and reconnected with the culture of his native country. Ancient Chinese cabinetmaking inspired the fine details of the bag.
“For me, Chinese traditions and crafts are as important as the lines on my ID card,” he said.
“The designer used a piece of real wood embedded in the handbag and made exquisite carvings to perfectly represent the charm of the work. It is a unique collaboration and a daring experiment. Constantly trying new possibilities and pushing things to extremes is what I understand about Dior and what I believe in as an artist, ”added Zhang.
Her Sakura Field mini bags are fully embroidered with pearls and sequins, representing a field of flowers dotted with Buddhist masks. The final design is a holographic version, featuring the same faces in 3D printing.
Li, meanwhile, used Lady Dior bags in three different sizes as the canvas for one of his prints, “Swordsmanship (III)”, working together as a triptych. In 2008, he represented the bag in shape on a monumental neon sculpture.
Reflecting on the role of artists in China today, Zhang said it is all about evolution. “Whether in China or elsewhere, artists always look at the world from a new perspective and create works that reflect the times,” he noted.
He is hopeful that beyond their commercial appeal, Dior Lady Art bags can spark meaningful conversations. When asked what he hoped to bring about, he replied, “To create an illusion of happiness as well as a new perspective on the meaning of life and the future of mankind.
Launch gallery: A Chinese exhibition highlights the Dior Lady Art project