The concept is certainly bizarre – directing paint into the blast of a jet engine to create art – but the results are surprisingly impressive.
Self-professed ‘global curator of modern Chinese chic’ and pioneering Chinese luxury lifestyle brand – Shanghai Tang – turns 20 this year. In true innovative style, the brand is celebrating with a collaboration of visionary creative talents from the world of art and fashion.
Kicking things off is contemporary artist Jacky Tsai. Jacky, perhaps best known for the floral skulls he created for British fashion designer Alexander McQueen, is creating a series of artworks which, in his words, “reflect the optimism of modern China.” Shanghai Tang will create a supporting limited edition capsule collection using his artworks – think luxurious qipaos, box clutches and delicate cashmere shawls. The Reserve caught up with Jacky to find out more.
It’s such an honour. It’s my 30th birthday this year and being able to collaborate with Shanghai Tang as they celebrate turning 20 is such a treat. I am a Shanghainese boy so I feel like it’s my destiny.
Absolutely. Shanghai Tang is a pioneer among luxury brands. They have been innovative enough to bring traditional Chinese culture into the modern day. I do the same kind of thing in my art – I use traditional techniques and crafts and give them a modern twist. I feel we’re very compatible.
The pieces are inspired by the beauty of nature, they are colourful and energetic and I think they reflect the optimism of modern China. A lot of my past work has been themed around both life and death but these pieces are very much focused on life.
I had an idea of how and what they were going to do with my art and the final result is pretty cool, very much as I had imagined. I suggested ideas in terms of how to apply my artwork to their products and I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out.
I used traditional crafts including lacquer carving, silk embroidery, hand-painting porcelain and a traditional Chinese painting style known as ‘guóhuà’. These are dying techniques; only a few people can still do them well. In some cases, like with lacquer carving, there are literally just ten very elderly men in China who are still able to do it. Occasionally they are sent to Beijing to fix traditional treasures, but aside from that there is no new work for them. With my pieces for Shanghai Tang, I wanted to make people aware of these crafts. It means a lot to me to bring them back.
They are doing a pretty good job. Look at their shop in Knightsbridge, London – people love it! I think previously people saw the Chinese aesthetic as a bit of a mystery – they didn’t realise how beautiful it was. If you brought it to the Western world in a different way it might not have been successful, but Shanghai Tang have somehow made it work.
I think in their first few years they were focused on just bespoke tailoring but over time they have become a global brand, offering much more to a much wider audience.
I was invited to design a blue and white porcelain egg for the Faberge Big Egg Hunt in New York a couple of weeks ago. That will go to Sotheby’s later this year. Then I have my solo show in London at the Screen Gallery which is all about traditional Chinese crafts. It actually launches the very same day as my collection in Shanghai Tang – on May 15th.
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