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Art Digest: December 21—27

By Dezember 27, 2020 No Comments
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Julia Kryshevich

Art Digest (December 14—20)

Meet the last Art Digest for this year. Yes, sounds incredible, but next week will partially seize 2021. Traditionally leaving all difficulties and sorrows in the old year, let’s open ourselves to new experience — hopefully, it won’t knock us down in a blink (almost joking). And Merry Christmas to all! Joyful occasions leave behind good memories, so let’s celebrate. 

P H O T O G R A P H Y 

Discover ASAKUSA: photographs of Japanese tattoo artist’s works by Ronin de Goede

Horikazu from Tokyo Asakusa is considered a prolific horishi. If you didn’t get half of the sentence, here is a brief explanation.

Horikazu was a traditional tattoo master, who was active for 40 years of his life, which is enough to call oneself a professional carver or horishi. Starting off as an assistant of a grand tattoo master in Tokyo, Asakusa, he finally settled down in the district to found his own practice later. By the way, Asakusa is a low-city Tokyo location rich with ancient heritage, street culture spirit, and handicraft shops, just perfect for an artist working with his heart and hands.

So where was I? Ah, yes, Horikazu himself died in 2011, bequeathing the tattoo business to his son, Horikazuwaka. Meanwhile the most engaged photographers have come up with some photo series of Horikazu artistic heritage captured. It’s the Dutch photographer Ronin de Goede who has recently released a new chronicle of the master’s work. The ASAKUSA diary of some black and white images by de Goede exposes intimate tattoo sessions that Horikazu provided for his clients, oftentimes members of Yakuza gangs. While Yakuza is internationally recognized as a Mafia-like criminal organization, the status of tattoo in Japan has become more legal, but it remains a tabooed subject for the local society. That controversy certainly makes Ronin de Goede photographic archive alluring to explore and marvel at

F A S H I O N 

Bridal and ready-to-wear: meet new collection by Vera Wang 

Lightness of being, which is perfectly bearable, or a moveable feast…Vera Wang’s Spring 2021 Ready-To-Wear Collection breaks expectations of what a bridal gown should look like. With different parts of their bodies exposed and wrapped in multi layers, mannequins from the designer’s new collection feature black and white, minimalist and puffy, but invariably stylish garments. Within Spring 2021 Ready-To-Wear the brand took a chance to demonstrate all kinds of tailoring and embellishments its seamstresses are capable of. And beyond that, the collection turned out reflective, referring to different parts of Vera Wang’s personality, such as her ballet and figure skating background (e.g. bodysuits, leggings). 

Who doesn’t know Vera Wang. Born to a Chinese couple in the US in 1949, Wang (Wáng Wēiwēi, in Mandarin) prepared to be an ice skater. Taking part in national competitions and even starring for Sports Illustrated at the age of 19, she sought to enter the U.S. Olympic figure skating team. However, when the plan failed, Vera Wang decided to quit from sports, but didn’t say goodbye to grace. She obtained her Arts major at Sarah Lawrence College (Paris) and took the Senior Fashion Editor’s seat in Vogue for 17 years in a row. Sounds like a great career story, yet the real action started, when Wang switched from writing to making, opening her own bridal salon in New York in 1990. Since then, Vera Wang’s label has been winning over the hearts of fashion-conscious brides all over the world. 

‘Because I didn’t know anything about bridal fashion, so to speak, I think I was freer’ reflects Wang of her start in the field. Exploring her collections today, you can still feel the couturier’s easy touch and wish to experiment like a few decades back.

A R T 

Forbidden City’s Palace Museum to host a new exhibition by Cai Guo-Qiang

Artist Cai Guo-Qiang has recently returned to his native China after a long stint in the US, and here you go, a new solo show by him. The location is Forbidden City’s Palace Museum, Beijing, no less, which, by the way, hosts a one-man exhibition by a contemporary artist for the first time. Speaking of which, the Museum opened its doors to the public in 1925, encompassing a few hundreds years of the Forbidden City’s historical and cultural heritage. This year the Palace Museum celebrates the 600th anniversary of the City’s founding, well, with Guo-Qiang’s ‘Odyssey and Homecoming’ show.

Currently running virtually, Odyssey and Homecoming’ consists of five halls of paintings, video, and documentation by the famous Chinese artist and has all chances to go offline through its finissage after February 5, 2021. ‘Odyssey and Homecoming’ should be interesting, at least because it’s the exhibition where Cai Guo-Qiang examines an artistic language of the high-tech, quite new for him. Guo-Qiang describes VR as the means ‘to represent the surreal and the invisible’ and expresses his willingness to search for further ways of incorporating virtual reality into his works.

P E R S O N A L I T Y 

Tribute to model Stella Tennant: she has died at 50 

Legendary British model Stella Tennant, who conquered the imagination of such fashion luminaries as Karl Lagerfeld, Alexander McQueen and Gianni Versace, has died. She celebrated her 50th anniversary on December, 17, passing away a week later for reasons her family won’t disclose. Tennant managed to become the face of the British nation on the runway, as well as introduce androgyny to the world of haute couture. In her track record there are a few Model of the Year and Contribution to Fashion awards along with numerous editorials and advertising campaigns for brands like Dior, Valentino, Chanel, Hermès, Calvin Klein etc.  

By the way, though stunning, the career path of Stella Tennant was no way typical. I mean, the unusually looking girl of blue bloods (her grandfather, Andrew Cavendish, was the 11th Duke of Devonshire) wasn’t hanging around the streets in the hope of being spotted by a fashion scout. Neither did she specifically seek becoming a model. Stella Tennant was studying sculpture at the Winchester School of Art, when she suddenly decided to send her photographs to a high fashion magazine. It was Steven Meisel who first fell in love with the distinctive appearance of Tennant (with her boyish haircut, noble yet just ethereal face features, and nasal septum pierced) and invited her to pose for the cover of Italian Vogue. So it went boom. Working closely with Mario Testino, David Sims, and Tim Walker, she was baptized as Karl Lagerfeld’s muse, who immediately thought of Chanel looking at the model. Unconditionally, Stella Tennant represented an entire epoch in the history of the modeling industry. We shall always remember her, what she truly was, sophisticated, courageous, and authentic.

A R C H I T E C T U R E 

Floating like a butterfly: new residential apartment by 314 architecture studio

It’s Vouliagmeni, the seaside suburbia of Athens, Greece, where a new butterfly-shaped residential apartment is located. Proposed by the local 314 studio, the outstanding dwelling complex has 4 independent units, on the number of the insect’s wings. Each wing includes a basement and a top floor, where inhabitants can enjoy tremendous sea views of the resort. The walking distance from the sea is 5 minutes only. Besides, the outward extension of the units provides access to a peaceful garden area and artificial lakes.

Despite the solid walls, the ‘butterfly’ looks weightless and transparent. That’s because of the U-glass used to camouflage the inner construction and imbue the complex with natural light. While glossy U-glass shines in the sun, the white cement stucco chosen for the walls rather has a matte effect. That kind of contrast helped the 314 studio architects to emphasize particular elements of the ‘butterfly’, expertly exhibiting them like in a white-cube museum. 

B O N U S 

Designer Virgil Abloh gives interview to Dezeen

Did you know that Virgil Abloh, the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s men’s wear collection, the Off White founder, and just a great fashion designer, has an architectural background? He graduated from Illinois Institute of Technology with a Master’s in Architecture… to turn off on the fashion road. 

‘I don’t believe in disciplines. We can use our architecture brain and do many things, not just what we’re supposed to do’ the fashion designer claims. Discover the new Abloh’s collaboration with an architectural firm as well as his professional glance at the industry in his recent interview with Dezeen

On the cover: ASAKUSA by Ronin de Goede. Courtesy of the Artist