Vue Privée marks the official launch of their new gallery at Spottiswoode Park with the opening of Buy Bye, a group exhibition that aims to showcase how Asian artists have been observing and responding to societal changes. In this instance they are taking on today’s luxury consumerism society that has been brought about by a burgeoning middle-class with a rapidly increasing disposable income who intend to seal their newly minted status with ostentatious displays of wealth. This has fueled the luxury branded goods market as people aspire to own these products that in the process locks them in a cycle of luxury consumerism and creates a shallow, superficial society where people are judged by their possessions.
Grabbing your attention in the centre of the gallery, sits Astari’s witty work, Home Bag which lampoons society’s craving for luxury goods. In her sculpture, her representation of the iconic Hermès Kelly bag takes the form of a cage in which she sets the 1930s cartoon character Betty Boop dressed in a Chinese qipao. Once a glamorous, self-assured symbol of the goggle box, the look of trepidation on her face suggests uncertainty at the situation she now finds herself in: trapped in her gilded cage. Astari has produced a literal representation of the trappings of luxury consumerism.
This work and other specially commissioned pieces for the exhibition have imbued the new Vue Privée gallery with the look and feel of a high-end boutique. In particular, Han Yajuan and Justin Lee’s silk scarves are wearable art and not only comment on the theme of luxury consumerism but are in turn, ironically transformed into luxury designer products themselves. Han’s Bling Bling (based on Bling Bling, oil on canvas) features coquettish pixie girls, piling on diamond studded accessories in their walk-in closet. Their vacuous, heavily made up faces completely oblivious to the world around them. These limited edition scarves (edition of 80 each) are part of Vue Privée’s “Art is a Lifestyle Programme”.
And after making your purchases, why don’t you tote your precious stash home in Astari’s limited edition Bye Buy Bag? These copper shopping bags (edition of 12) were also specially created for this exhibition. I found this a tongue-in-cheek poke at people who carry around the paper bags of luxury designer houses
We then come across Aíman who uses toys as the main protagonists in his realistic paintings. The Maneki Neko, or Fortune Cat and its moving arm, is a common Japanese good luck ornament. In More Maneki Neko, More! Aíman has appropriated another iconic Japanese feline image, Hello Kitty, as a Maneki Neko for the luxury consumer set. This rich cat is wearing a Gucci collar and a Louis Vuitton bib. She is sitting on a pile of gold Lego bricks that seem to form a throne and waving an additional gold arm in an exaggerated plea for more.
Next up we have Justin Lee, one of Singapore’s best-known contemporary artists with his works displayed at the Singapore Art Museum and the Asian Civilisations Museum. His style is a unique blend of eastern and western elements. Here, Lee revisits his Happy Meal Series updating it with a luxury twist. Happy Meal Series – Paris sees Lee’s cherubic Chinese children contemplating a trip to Paris where they can consume not only culture at the French capital’s famous museums but also food at Fauchon, a reknowned fine grocery store, and luxury brands. All these are sandwiched into a huge hamburger signifying that the Chinese are now consuming luxuries as everyday items.
Along with Aíman and Justin Lee, the third local artist in this exhibition, Tr853-1 (TraseOne) presents his take on consumerism by looking at how children can be caught up in a consumerism trap from an early age and how parents have been the knowing or unknowing influences as children are easily susceptible to the ideas of adults. Kids These days shows how the traditional A for Apple, B is for Ball, C is for Car has been replaced by the names of luxury marques.
Buy Bye is curated by art and luxury lifestyle freelance journalist Sonia Kolesnikov-Jessop and runs from now till 20 May 2012. Catch these artworks before they all get…snapped up!
63 Spottiswoode Park
Monday to Friday by appointment only
Saturday to Sunday 12pm to 6pm
Gallery: +65 6226 2508
Office: +65 6338 7821