We all know and love our MCM bags, that's for sure. We also like wearing the RTW collections (I mean how amazing is the SS14 range? Floral extravaganza!). Now, how do we feel about MCM scarves? Great, right? Especially when they are made in collaboration with five of the brightest Chinese contemporary artists...
As you know, here at MCM we love to support the art world as much as we can and we have a long standing tradition of patronage. For this very special collection of scarves, we asked artists Gao Yu, Hang Chunhun, Huang Ying, Liu Kun and Xu Hualing to explore the origins of some traditional Chinese cultural heritages including Longquan celadon, Anhui Xuan paper, shadow play, woodblock printing and Nanjing brocade.
To create their scarves, the five artists visited the birthplaces of each artistic heritage and later mixed it with contemporary lifestyles and traditions. The result: five different interpretations of traditional folk culture with one thing in common - a certain youthfulness. This is the spirit of MCM today, perfect balance between tradition and contemporary lifestyle.
Now let me introduce you to our five artists and their designs.
Inspired from celadons in Longquan, Gao Yu employs ancient aesthetics dating from the Song Dynasty. The skull images he uses embody the craftmens’ peak in producing the monochrome glaze porcelain during the Song Dynasty, over thousands of years ago. The porcelain is described as being “green as jade, clear as a mirror, thin as paper, with a sound like chimes”.
Born into what he calls an "average" Sichuanese family, Gao Yu was fascinated by Chinese philosophy at an early age, reading Lao zi's books under covers at night because he wasn't sure if his mother would understand his premature interest. His philosophical tendencies were tempered with a healthy diet of Kung Fu novels, ancient Chinese classics filled with wartime drama, and comics-- plenty of comics. These childhood hobbies can perhaps elucidate Gao Yu's body of work: his literary themes were borrowed from the Chinese cannon, his comic - addiction influenced his style and the manner in which he connects his main character across canvases, lastly, certain ancient philosophies have influenced his easy - going manner and let - it - be approach to art.
And there is the panda, otherwise known as "GG." However, the birth of this feisty creature was not one inspired by love, instead by Gao Yu's intense feelings hatred for his sometimes bloody, other times, heroic national symbol. The "lovable," but lazy panda, in his opinion, is better suited to being a stuffed bear, not a symbol of national pride. The adventures of GG and his on again off again girlfriend can be followed across the panels of his very two- dimensional, purely colored works. In early 2002 he began with painting his ravenous version of the bamboo-chewing bear, and the character stuck with him, reincarnated in what seems to be a loosely autobiographical tale that, instead of appearing on the printed sheets of a comic, unfolds slowly over his canvases. Often the bear's dress embodies classical Chinese themes, or a painting's composition, or the use of a literary title.
Recent experiments with animation have seen this constant companion take the shape of the Monkey King in a legendary battle with a Superman-like figure, and a product design series "Panda Box" sees him reproduced across T-shirts, drinking glasses, sofa chairs and wallpaper, revealing Gao Yu's inherent attraction to pop culture and mass marketing. Today, Gao Yu's compositional themes, his repetition and the supposed "logo-ification" of his GG character have bounced him into renown and garnered its fair share of criticism. But he shrugs it all off easily; if you ask him how long he'll be working with his bear, he doesn't know, I guess that as long as a public is buying into the "myth of the panda" Gao Yu will have fodder for his next work.
As a female artist, Huang Ying portrays more emotion in her works, looking to the colors and lights of traditional Beijing shadow shows for a playful influence. The head shapes of shadow shows are her favourite inspiration. Using a combination of human bones and dragonfly images, Huang transfers mottled colors and images to create contemporary visual language in her scarf design. However, Huang also manages to maintain the innate spirit of this ancient art form, which well matches the innovative MCM.
Born in Hunan. Living and working in Beijing now Studied in Beijing Film Academy and in Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing. Unlike many other female artists who work singly around gender issues,
Produced with millions of woven wires, Nanjing Brocade is renowned for its complicated manufacturing process and exquisite hand-embroidery skills. Artist Xu Hualing was very impressed at a densely stitched image of a peacock on the back of a piece of brocade during his exploration into the art form. This image later inspired him to recreate the scene in scarves he designed, emphasising the beauty of traditional Chinese crafts by sketching pattern contours with brush pens.
Born in Heilongjiang Province in 1975 and graduated from Central Academy of Fine Arts. Xu Hualing lives in Beijing, taught at Beijing university of technology institute of art and design, in 2012, transferred to the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) institute traditional Chinese painting teaching.
Symbolizing good luck and peace, artist Liu Kun ingeniously chose “lucky clouds” patterns over ancient woodblock printed characters, for the design of his scarf. Retaining elements of traditional Chinese characters, the translated words of MCM are also printed on the scarf, connecting the Munich spirit and Chinese culture in a unique way.
Drawing inspirations from the production process of Xuan paper, artist Hang Chunhui represents key elements in this artistry through fine brushwork - blunt scissors in paper cutting, bamboo curtains and leather aprons worn by the papermaking craftsmen. Together with the well-known bear image in his previous works, the fusion of traditional handicrafts with modern images is a vivid portrayal of the combination of ancient technology and the vigour of MCM.
Hang Chunhui is a Chinese visual artist who was born in 1976. Hang Chunhui has had several gallery and museum exhibitions, including at the Today Art Museum. Numerous works by the artist have been sold at auction, including 'Missa No. 1' sold at Christie's Hong Kong 'Asian Contemporary Art Day Sale' in 2013 for $56,428.
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