Eric Shiner with L.A.EYEWORKS Bosco

The Curator: Erich Shiner at Sotheby’s Cotemporary Fine Art

Interview JUSTIN ROSS
Photography LANCE CHESHIRE

Humble and astute, Eric Shiner is the consummate gentleman for the 21st century. From an early age he developed the eye of a curator, turned on to collecting by a childhood spent roaming antique markets and estate sales. His cultural curiosity awakened, he later studied towards a PhD at Yale focusing on Asian art history, developing a strong intellectual backbone. Drawn to an unfolding phenomenon—the boom in Asian art collecting in New York—Eric’s career took off.
These days Eric has accomplished what few can say they have done: he has seamlessly transitioned between academic, public, and private realms within the art world, from academic pursuits at Yale to a position as director of the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, and most recently his return to New York to lead the dynamic team at Sotheby’s contemporary fine art division. Eric was generous enough to share with us his insights into the art world, his take on celebrity vis-a-vis Andy Warhol, and a few genuine tips on art collecting.

Eric Shiner with L.A.EYEWORKS BOSCO
Eric Shiner with L.A.EYEWORKS Bosco

It has been just over a year since you left the position of director of the Andy Warhol Museum to join Sotheby’s contemporary art division. How did you find the transition, and what are the major differences between public and private sector work in the art world?
It has been a most dynamic year, and certainly making the transition from the realm of the nonprofit art museum into the world of art commerce compelled me to recalibrate my thinking and tactics, albeit still focused on the same basic principles of art history. Luckily, as a museum director, I was always entrepreneurial, and it definitely helped that I was running The Andy Warhol Museum, where, like Andy, I felt that art and business were one. Thus, I was always thinking about new streams of revenue generation, much in the same vein as my work here at Sotheby’s now. Now having been here a year, I realize that I speak about the same objects, with the same audiences, often in the same places as I once did as a curator and museum director, but now I am selling objects instead of ideas. It’s been a fantastic challenge that I savor.

You took a bit of a roundabout route to the art world having previously spent time in East Asia, and studying towards a doctorate in East Asian Studies at Yale, isn’t that right? Did you always know that you wanted to work with art or how did that come about?
To say that my career path has been circuitous is a vast understatement! Yes, I was a PhD student at Yale in the History of Art and Architecture department, focusing on postwar Japanese art. My academic focus in my undergraduate years in the States and my first master’s degree program in Japan was on Japanese art, first medieval architecture and screen painting, and then postwar photography and performance art. After two years in the PhD program, where I also started learning Chinese and writing about Chinese contemporary art, I realized that a huge phenomenon was unfolding in New York City—Asian contemporary art was exploding and I was being contacted by media outlets, galleries, and collectors to write, curate, and advise on a regular basis. I decided that it would make more sense for me to jump on that momentum, so I made the hard decision to leave school, with a master’s degree in hand, and move to New York to be a part of the action. It was the right decision at the time, and what ultimately led me back to The Andy Warhol Museum, first as curator and then soon after as director.
My love and passion for art go back to the very beginning. My parents and grandparents were all active collectors, and as such, I grew up going to estate sales, country auctions, flea markets and antique stores on a regular basis. Without anyone knowing it, I was on a learning curve for becoming a connoisseur and a curator—always trying to find the needle in the haystack, something that I greatly enjoyed doing, and still do.

I want to talk a bit about the relationship between art and celebrity. Clearly this was a major topic of inquiry in Andy Warhol’s work, and not only in his work, but also his life. He was perhaps one of the first living artists to embody celebrity and also to experiment within its boundaries. Today we have seen a proliferation of celebrity artists. What do you attribute this to?
Well, of course, this is nothing new. Warhol actually modeled his own persona and its dispersal on other artists from the past who had successfully become famous icons, especially Marcel Duchamp to a degree, but especially Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali. The former was famous as an academic, rebel and game-changer in the rarefied world of art, but the latter were world-famous and became household names, something that Warhol definitely aspired to himself.
Today, I would safely say that mass media, and by extension, social media, are the main vehicles upon which some artists choose to build their persona on the fast track to fame. Yes, we can most decidedly blame Warhol for much of this!

Of course celebrities also can and often do make great collectors of art, and it seems that art fairs across the world, and especially Basel have become increasingly star studded. Is this simply recognition of the importance of celebrities who buy art or is there something larger at play?
I actually wish MORE celebrities bought art, as very few do in the greater scheme of things. At the end of the day, those that have taken the leap are incredibly passionate about their collections from my experience, and they feel that the artwork they live with is a natural extension of their own creativity.

What would you say to people who criticize art with being too disconnected with real world problems?
I would disagree fully. Important artists have always challenged the status quo in either direct or subtle ways in an effort to change things for the better. For me, the most successful art is that which tackles real world problems in an effort to help dissipate them.

Do you think that the overall pace of visual culture, and especially through social media has changed our understanding of what celebrity is?
It has definitely sped up, just as the likelihood and eventuality of that fame quickly fading away so too has accelerated. When Warhol said that, in the future, everybody will be world famous for fifteen minutes, he foreshadowed the current state of social media, and yet, fifteen minutes now seems like a very long time!

Do you think that the gallery model or art world is changing? Are Instagram and other online or virtual auction or gallery sites really a threat to the more traditional galleries, museums or auction houses?
Things are definitely changing rapidly, and I feel that a restructuring of the gallery system as we knew it is critical right now. Certainly, Instagram and online auctions have extended the reach of contemporary art into new and potential collectors’ lines of sight, thus, hopefully expanding the business, not contracting it. I think the real challenge facing galleries right now are, amongst other things, soaring rents in major urban centers, combined with the vast number of art fairs around the globe that have in many ways taken over as the main venue for gallery sales. That’s a lot of overhead to keep up with for any gallery.
I would LOVE to see young gallerists through to mid-tier galleries unite to think of new collaborative models that would help to lower the overhead for all, perhaps finding large spaces that can be shared, akin to an art fair, but year round. I also love what the recent Condo project in New York City presented: gallery swaps for international galleries to come to NYC and take over an extant gallery’s space for a month. Thinking in these ways will save the all-important primary gallery system, which is still the lifeblood of the art world.

I want to find out a bit more about your personal taste or preferences when it comes to art. Can you give me some tips on some new or emerging artists you would recommend checking out?
In my own collection, I focus on a few main themes, namely text-based art, Japanese art, landscapes, portraiture and photography, with exceptions, of course. I tend to buy the work of emerging and mid-career artists, and tend to focus on women artists, artists of color and LGBTQ artists. I would recommend that readers visit emerging galleries and art fairs focused on young talent to find intriguing works. I strongly encourage would-be collectors to buy as much emerging art as possible, as this is the time in any artist’s career when financial support, and by extension, belief in their work, is the most critical.

What about some of the top shows gallery/fair/museum that you saw this year?
The Wolfgang Tillmans exhibition at the Bayeler Foundation in Basel was by far the best show I saw this year, followed very closely by Adrián Villar Rojas’s installation at the National Observatory of Athens in Greece. Art Basel was especially high quality this year, and I was honored to curate the first Platforms section of The Armory Show in New York City, featuring large-scale sculpture and installation, to help break up the monotony of the art fair, something I greatly enjoyed doing.

I think it is very important that young people also get involved in buying and collecting art. Collecting art is an essential part of giving back to artists for their hard work and contribution to their vision. What would you say to first-time or novice collectors? What advice would you give?
I agree fully! I would suggest that young collectors buy what they can, and stretch when they need to do so. In the words of my dear friend and collector Bob Meltzer who sadly passed away earlier this year, “If it doesn’t hurt, it doesn’t count.” In that line of thinking, I encourage young collectors to buy what they can, ask for a payment plan (many galleries will happily stretch out payments over three or four months) and do what it takes to get something that they love.

How about your personal style? How would you describe your style and have you always been so impeccably dressed?
I’ve always been a chameleon and have dressed to fit into my environs. I think I’ve had every look in the book, from goth to cyber punk to business man. It keeps things interesting and keeps people guessing. In the end, I buy what I love and what makes me stick out from the crowd. I guess it also helps that I’m 6’5”, so that would be the case regardless, come to think of it.

And what about eyewear? l.a.Eyeworks, one of the eyewear labels you wore during the shoot has always had a connection with artists and really suits you. Do you have any other favorite brands?
Over the years, I’ve had a lot of fun wearing (some would say) “eccentric” eyewear. I love l.a.eyeworks, and have owned frames from small circular black artsy types through geometric colorful shapes, all German of course. While living in Pittsburgh, I was a big fan of Norman Childs’s designs at Eyetique, a fantastic store with lots of fun choices. I also like Persol, Matsuda and Oliver Peoples. In Japan, I had an amazing pair of frames designed by Philippe Starck.

Are there any other artists that you can think of that have had this relationship with eyewear?
Well, Andy was certainly known for his sunglasses. I own a pair that are an exact recreation of his signature shades made by Super that are a limited edition of 200. I get compliments on them all the time. David Hockney is certainly linked to his signature eyewear, just as Yoko Ono is known for her sunglasses. Yayoi Kusama also loves to wear wildly patterned shades mimicking her artwork.

There are a number of brands that have undertaken projects with artist, or artist’s estates such as Keith Haring, or most recently, the Barcelona-based brand Etnia Barcelona rolled out a large-scale collection inpsired by Jean-Michel Basquiat’s iconic symbols like the crown. Surely Andy Warhol would have loved it. What do you think?
By all means he would have! I actually know Andy’s optician who made all of his glasses who always tells me how much Andy loved fine eyewear. It’s those little narratives that count!

PERSOL Steve McQueen RAP5428AA

Sculptures in the Space between Place and Memory

Raimund Kummer discusses his artistic path following his arrival in West Berlin in the 1970s and his approach to sculpture across diverse media on the occasion of his exhibition Sublunar Interference at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin.

Interview JUSTIN ROSS
Photography Frangipani Beatt

Co-founder of Büro Berlin, one of the first groups dedicated to the conception and realization of art interventions in the public space, Raimund Kummer is a conceptual sculptor, a pillar of the heyday of frenetic creativity that was West Berlin in the 1970s and 1980s, and a profoundly interesting man with a carefully studied approach to art-making and interpretation. A site-specific installation artist, before such a term existed to give name to this style and method of working, three important pieces from his career have been collected by Germany’s Nationalgalerie and are indicative of both a moment and a mood, as well as an original voice in the German contemporary art scene and post-conceptual art. I spoke to Raimund on the occasion of his solo exhibition Sublunar Interference curated by Eugen Blume at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, containing key works from a career spanning more than four decades already.

What I must admit I half expected to be a cursory glance at his feelings about his exhibition (very satisfied) and his plans for the future (he is open to exploring many new things), in the end turned out to be a much more complex and critical jaunt through the early years of his artistic career in Berlin and the many twists and turns that gave Raimund his particular artistic perspective, one that was born out of the creative potential of the urban environment, replete with semi-destroyed and abandoned buildings and plentiful unsupervised and under-utilized public spaces.

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I was always fascinated by observing, rather than ‘creating.’ I think my qualities or capabilities are that I have a very precise ability to recognize that things in the context of where you are standing and that they send out a certain energy. Through my intervention you therefore note them as a special event.

Raimund’s early works can also be seen as something of an ode to West Berlin in the 1970s, a description of his love affair with the city of great potential. Berlin features as a protagonist in Raimund’s grand narrative. His massive ongoing photographic project On Sculpture—part autobiographical archive and part conceptual exploration of the very medium of sculpture itself—is also an ode to the city that welcomed him, when, in the ’70s he joined many artists flocking to the city, leaving behind an imposed normativity and running towards the promise of ‘Freiheit,’ of freedom and liberation at the edge of the western world in the divided city. It was a period in which the city itself, in its ruinous destruction, seemed to offer a creative playground to artists looking to discover their voice.

There was just a kind of wilderness. It was not like ruins after the war, but it was the next step after that. It was in between, it was a giant sandbox in a way, and we all could go out and play. And that’s why things could be staged, because you had these undefined open spaces and if you put the right thing in a space, it immediately became obvious.

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Raimund Kummer wasn’t exactly sure what he was going to do in Berlin, but he knew that his expectations of becoming a painter had already vanished by the end of his studies. Instead he followed a roundabout path before the freedom to experiment with new practices in Berlin allowed him to really absorb and reformulate his surroundings and arrive at a technique that felt both important, accessible, and authentic. Berlin’s streets and its ample unused spaces were all at once his studio, his canvas, and his gallery.

This was a very liberating moment of being a young artist. This [Sculptures in the Street] was basically the first artwork, or some of the first artworks I did after finishing my studies. I photographed motifs from ’78 to ’79. I bought myself a Minox camera and ‘fixed’ things that I found eruptive. Things which I discovered on my daily walks. Over five or six hundred photos slides (colour transparency film) were realized. Of these photos slides I chose a selection of 80, an amount that would fit in a Kodak Carousel. That was the beginning of a way out of being stuck. That led me into discovering public space as a very interesting subject matter.

And therefore I found, in the occasional place of the everyday life, things which have been moved, stacked, or destroyed for a special reason; things that had never had an aesthetic purpose, but could be seen as such. As unwillingly produced interesting structures at least. To give them a programmatic sense, I called them ‘sculptures in the street.’

Not really minding who came or how many saw these spontaneous sculptures in the public realm, Raimund would, however, invite people with invitation cards sent by post, inviting them to “openings” to view the fixed points in time and places across the city. But his interventions in the street were really meant to be temporary and anonymous, and to blur the line between art and reality for the unsuspecting passersby.

This idea of anonymous worked only for the public. On a certain level it was a subversive strategy of going into the space and transforming the spaces for a short period of time only. Sometimes it was there for a day, a week, for four weeks, and then it was gone.

It reminds us of a time when art, appeared at least, to be more authentic. If there ever was such a thing as art for art’s sake, it was here in this tiny island of West Berlin, a wrinkle in time, a bubble on the map.

Years spent on film sets to earn money, which began shortly after his arrival in Berlin, clearly influenced his approach. Working as a set designer and technician, he studied compositions, rearranging and fine-tuning, color correcting, adjusting angles and lights… techniques he later went on to use with the objects and materials readily at hand, creating his own parallel reality, a filmic, dramatic reality that was available out in the real world, but had to be pointed out, often with ad hoc and improvised methods.

Looked at / seen through rose colored glasses, 2004, Foto: Raimund Kummer © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017

These I-beams were lying around, here on the Admiralstrasse [the same street in Berlin where Raimund still lives and works today in a large converted factory building that he has owned since the ’80s], and I thought it looked like a very nice throw of Mikado sticks. And so I went and I bought myself two gallons of lacquer paint and just painted it roughly and then photographed it. Here the photograph was more a document of an artistic activity of mine, anonymously done. But the piece itself was obviously to be seen by other people too, because it had a great presence. I didn’t have money to buy a 10,000-watt cinema light or something like that, so I just used this [red paint]. The intervention [in the public context] gives you a panoramic view on what is surrounding this thing, and it makes you think of why it is there, and what is around it.

These constructed scenes for his street sculptures were never meant to be repeated or reproduced, and unlike other types of found objects or readymades, his sculptures found their natural home in the public. They would exist only for as long as they needed to, even if that was only just for a moment.

My aim was to keep the moment where the art has been produced, where the art is happening, and the moment where you look at it identical. It is not this kind of readymade, where you find something in the street and bring it into the gallery or the white cube context and see how wonderful or unusual it is. I wanted to bring people to an awareness of the real space in which they are living.

The instantaneous and immediate nature of photography enabled Raimund to capture these moments, these temporary relationships between objects that existed on the streets for only a brief period of time. As a result, his photographic archive is immense. An edited version of this archive, On Sculpture (1979–2017), still growing and numbering some 444 pictures at the time of its most recent presentation, was one of four diverse installation formats from distinct periods in his artistic career, alongside Skulpturen in der Straße (1978/1979), Mehr Licht (1991), and νόστος – ἄλγος (2012) (Greek: Nóstos álgos) in his recent exhibition Sublunar Intervention at the Hamburger Bahnhof. A film of personal recollections from Raimund Kummer, which elaborates on his relationship with both place and memory as he visits various places of significance to his work with curator Eugen Blume and appropriately titled unterwegs / out and about, was also produced specifically for the exhibition.

I have a very long, ongoing, critical, love-hate relationship with photography. I had to show what my work is about. And that is why I have done endless research and attempts on documentation vs. non-documentation, on what remains and what doesn’t remain.

Many of these pictures, taken on the same Mamiya camera that he has had since 1979, are given a new life in the concisely edited, and sculpturally presented form that they take in the exhibition. The snaking path of the stacked manila files gives a weight and depth to the collection, signaling the years of archival and editing process behind the piece, while it is just on the surface that the selected images float, in an invitingly tactile way, making their way around one exhibition hall and inviting visitors to leisurely absorb the photographs, peering down at them at waist-level. In an age of abundant visual imagery, with our seemingly insatiable appetite for rapid image consumption on social media like Instagram, there is something grand and luxurious, as well as slightly nostalgic, in roaming such an abundance of printed visual material. There is also something brave and commendable about the editing process that Raimund has undertaken to condense nearly four decades of photographing into these 444 photographic records.

The difference is that, for me, it is not an endless flow without any hierarchy. Media is just plus/minus and the amount of data you can put on your phone. As an artist you have to make decisions. To state everything is art, 24 hours a day, is something that can’t be. For me, it is the person who steps in and says yes or no. I do editing, basically. I make decisions about what is important and what is not important. That is, I think that the difference between my work and the common use of Instagram, for example.

Over time, however, the purpose of his archival practice has also morphed and mutated, and just as his street-based sculptures were in fact studied compositions on what sculptures are and could be, this work has become a sort of meditation on the archive for Raimund, allowing him to work through aspects of his creative process, like a rhizome, closing some down and simultaneously opening others, unfolding new possibilities.

What I’m working on is getting to a stage of being able to go further. Which means to get rid of lots of weight, to become lighter, to get rid of the weight of history and how to do things, to go forward to discover something new, which you were not able to think before. That is the excitement of being an older person, having lots of experience. You have never ever achieved everything. It’s a question of your own values, and of your own spirit, if you want more. And for me, that’s still my spirit… I want more. I think I have still not done my best work yet. Being an artist means being in an endless ongoing experiment.

Mehr Licht, 1991, Foto: Raimund Kummer, Martin Salzer © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017

Raimund Kummer’s Sublunar Interference was recently extended for three months and is on view at the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart in Berlin until the 29th of October 2017. www.raimundkummerinberlin.de

Photographer JORGEN AXELVALL
Styling KEITH WASHINGTON
Interview JUSTIN ROSS

Aerosyn Lex Mestrovic has made a name for himself creating mesmerizing calligraphic works on canvas that reinterpret multiple cultural influences, providing insights into his own diverse background and the globalized world we all live in. Since developing his signature approach, Aerosyn Lex has transformed his practice into an all-encompassing multimedia concept that deftly translates between fine art, video, fashion, and products.

For his high-concept ability to synthesize poignant topics into impressive pieces of art and design, his work has been recognized by the New York MOMA, the White House, and the SCOPE Art Award in 2014, as well as through collaborations with noted contemporary fashion designers such as Kenzo, Givenchy, and Public School. We sat down to discuss his work in both art and fashion and the underlying symbolic concepts that drive each of his recent projects.

This versatile artist has much in store in 2016 as he adds even more to his arsenal with projects in the pipeline including risqué perfumes from Sixth Sense and deeply researched chocolates with Park Hyatt in one of our favorite places, Tokyo, Japan.

Tell me a little bit about the two-dimensional, calligraphic works that you make.

The basis of the work is language and communication, that is what is interesting to me. Also weaving through everything is this concept of multiculturalism. My background plays a role—I’m from Argentina, born there, but I grew up in Miami in the US. I’ve been in New York now for fourteen or fifteen years and went to school here. I’ve lived in Japan and I’ve traveled a lot. My father’s background is from Croatia in Eastern Europe. My own experiences are very global and through the tapestry of this multiculturalism what is interesting to me is how technology is compressing the idea of cultural identity and then at the core of that is this aspect of communication. I’ve studied calligraphy since I was a kid. This notion of calligraphy being the visual representation of our words as humans—of how we tell stories, of how we communicate, and how record or have recorded knowledge in the past—the fact that there are very key visual elements of each culture be it Arabic or Sanskrit, or something more Western, or with the brush strokes, perhaps more Asian. It’s interesting to throw all those things together and still tell a coherent story.

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It’s a really brave thing that you are doing because calligraphy is a very precise art. It looks instinctive but there are a lot of rules within it. But you are taking these techniques, and through a multicultural approach you are redefining these rules and using them in a more aesthetic sense.

You are totally right. Especially that Eastern style of Japanese calligraphy, you can’t fake it. You have to be present in the moment and it demand a certain amount of focus, confidence, and presence of mind. There is an honesty to that that you can’t fake. As a kid I was always really drawn to it. This kind of abstract, gestural, very emotional powerful type of work, I always really loved it.

Is that how you work today? What does the process look like when you set about making a painting?

As it happens, it is in the moment, but there is always a plan and there are always countless iterations before the actual final version happens. There is a very deliberate aspect to it. Some of the recent works I had on exhibition in Tokyo, for example, they have to work on two scales. There is the view from ten feet away, but from ten inches, there is a whole different aspect with the pigments and paints themselves, of the intermingling of the different pigments. I make a lot of my pigments by hand to get a certain type of saturation and chemical reaction on the page. It might not be evident at first glance but it is something that you can continue to look at it and find new and interesting little bits and pieces inside of my work.

Is that one of the reasons why you went on to create the live video versions of your paintings? To capture that interaction between pigments?

Definitely. That came about when I was commissioned by the BBC and Channel 4 in the UK a couple of years ago to direct a short film based on my calligraphy. I had never done anything in film before but I had the opportunity to do it and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. It took a year to make about six minutes of film. I really wanted to capture the painting but I’d never done it on film so we came up with this whole system and process where I built a whole lighting setup with a mounted table and using a very high-end 5K high-def RED camera system to capture the work in really exquisite detail. That experience really opened things up for me and led to an exhibition of my work at the MOMA a couple of years ago.

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You have an underlying conceptual approach which ties your work together, no matter what medium it is in. How does that influence you when you cross from fine art into fashion?

There has been a sort of taboo around art in fashion, and I think that’s true, but in fashion, there has always been a precedent for these types of experiments. You had Schiaparelli using Dali for scarves, you had Yves Saint Laurent working with Piet Mondrian years ago, and now you even have Jeff Koons doing H&M. There have always been artists collaborating with fashion. I think that now it has become normalized. Since Takeshi Murakami or Stephen Sprouse for Louis Vuitton, for example. For me, I really love fashion, I’m invested in it; I’m interested in it from a passionate standpoint. Whenever I get the opportunity to work on something, whether it’s a collection, or a sculpture, or a painting, I approach it with the same level of creativity and focus and meaning and intent that I would do a fine art piece. They are all equally as challenging and gratifying.

I would love to do that, I haven’t done so before. Working with 4SEE on this shoot was the first time I got in contact with eyewear in such a close way and it was a really interesting process. Let’s make it happen!

How does eyewear fit into your personal style?

It is something that I’m just coming into now. I’m realizing that eyewear can be something that is an accessory as much as it is utilitarian. For me, eyewear was always of utility. If you need to wear glasses you would, but otherwise not. But now, seeing that I really enjoyed the Max Pittion, I really enjoyed the pieces and the whole history of the brand.

Tell me about some of your upcoming projects.

I’m working now via the White House with a new program called the United States Japan Leadership Program which is a fellowship program which is going on for the next two years. It’s very interesting, its’ people from the military, doctors, scientists, and then somehow I’m the one visual artist in there. There are delegates and we work across a couple of different conferences to establish a greater connection between the two nations. That is definitely fun and interesting.

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The main thing right now is that I’m launching a range of fragrances, a range of ‘parfums’. As part of a brand that has been around for seven or eight years and is called Sixth Sense. Sixth Sense had a few different collections, and each collection they would collaborate with up and coming fashion designers. Back when Alexander Wang was just starting they did his fragrance, also Gareth Pugh, Domir Doma, Boris Bidjan, and Juun J from Korea.This is their first concept collection which is called ‘les potions fatales.’ It’s nine fragrances all based on poisonous fauna such as Hemlock, which Socrates drank to commit suicide, digitalis which is used for assassination, and poppy, obviously connected with Opium. I did all of the packaging, the bottle, the artwork which is included, it is all interwoven with the concept of the fragrances which we based of aposematism, a scientific term for the coloration of poisonous animals. Oftentimes, poisonous tree frogs and snakes, they are the most vibrantly colored animals. We took this concept to the very brightly colored artwork and wove it into the whole ethos of the packaging concept for this fragrance range. It is set to come out in just about a month and it will be distributed worldwide.

In Japan, what I’m working on now is a collaboration with the Park Hyatt in Shinjuku. It is famous for the film ‘Lost in Translation.’ When I celebrated New Years there at the Park Hyatt this year I met the general manager and was introduced to Frederico, their executive chef who is from Argentina, where I’m also from. We hit it off and had an idea to put together an art installation and create a product at the same time. So we are planning to create a range of chocolates for the Park Hyatt and this would be a collaboration. We are looking at the pre-Colombian origins of Cacao, where for the Inca, the Olmec, for the Aztecs, for the Maya, chocolate was the drink of the gods. It wasn’t chocolate bars, it was a very bitter drink, and they would put spices into it and use it for sacrifices. We are looking to create something that bridges these two cultures, Japanese and Latin American cultures. Along with a busy exhibition schedule, these are the two major projects on the horizon for me this year.

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