DIOR LADY ART #6: MEET THE ARTISTS

ZHANG HUAN

Passionate about Buddhist philosophy, the themes explored by Zhang Huan include the cycles of life and death, the body-mind relationship and the role of memory. Highly sensitive to matter, he works with water, blood, ice and ashes in provocative performances that push his own physical and psychological limits. His body metamorphoses into a canvas, a paintbrush, a language. For Dior, he transposes his universe onto four unique creations that seem to come to life when watched.

The emblematic Lady Dior thus features a work from the My Winter Palace series, a symbol of the perpetual reinvention of art*, and exalts the virtuosity of ancestral Chinese cabinetmaking, at the intersection of tradition and modernity, with its extremely fine details.
The Sakura Field mini bags, embroidered entirely with beads and sequins, represent a field of flowers populated with Buddhist masks – linking the world of the living and the dead – an enchanted landscape with a thousand and one colors combining past and future. The final stage of this multi-faceted artistic odyssey is the revisiting of this Dior icon in a holographic version adorned with these same faces in 3D printing. A multiple creative vision, from immobility to movement, illustrative of rebirth(s). A new breath of life.
*The female face represented by the artist is a reinterpretation of a painting by Rembrandt from 1634, showing his wife Saskia van Uylenburgh as the goddess Flora, divinity of spring, protector of flowers.

GENIEVE FIGGIS

Genieve Figgis's work combines tragic decay, dark humor and emphatic comedy; a casualness of unsettling depth that hijacks 18th-century aesthetics. In her studio in the wilds of County Wicklow, south of the Irish capital, the artist draws inspiration from the works of Ensor, Boucher and Fragonard, revisiting the original paintings as if they were melting or dissolving.

For Dior, she has transposed her universe onto three ethical creations, made of grape leather, symbolizing the equality between humans and animals. A majestic and powerful figure embodying a vital force, a tiger adorns one of the bags, while a unique cat, deformed by pearl embroidery, appears on the second piece. Finally, a captivating tableau adorns the third Lady Dior: fauna and characters from the past – whose features appear to be disintegrating – inhabit a disturbing strangeness, like an enigmatic yet harmonious carnival. Timeless scenes, with a faux naivety, that acutely question our relationship with survival, life and nature.

GISELA COLON

Fascinated by vital forces, universal energies and the planetary system, Gisela Colón has developed a singular language characterized by a mix of geometric and organic forms. At once minimalist and futuristic, her iconic monoliths and biomorphic cells – wall sculptures seemingly in mutation – blur art and science, the past and the future. Designed with innovative materials, her works feature holographic reflections that shift in the light: hypnotic colors that she also used to enhance her reinterpretations of the Lady Dior handbag in the fifth edition of Dior Lady Art.

In 2021, Gisela Colón collaborates once again with the House of Dior for the international exhibition Forever Is Now, held in the heart of the Pyramids of Giza. For the event, the artist has created a piece celebrating the splendor of Egypt and its infinitely rich heritage.
Dressed in gold, echoing royal sarcophagi, the bag at its center is adorned with the Eye of Udjat, one of the most important protective symbols of ancient Egypt, representing the eye of the falcon god Horus. Adorned with a garnet, this emblem is surrounded by semi-precious stones, recalling the gems embellishing the mask of Tutankhamun as well as the jewelry of Egyptian queens like Hatshepsut, Nefertiti and Cleopatra. From the bag’s handles – inspired by an ancient necklace – to the lining – embossed with hieroglyphics – and the charms which evoke snake forms – representing sovereignty and the power of transformation – each detail tells a fragment of this exciting story and unique heritage.

LINA IRIS VIKTOR

The British-Liberian conceptual artist, painter, and performer Lina Iris Viktor lives between London, Italy, and New York, where she studied. Her multidisciplinary approach, an interweaving of ancient and contemporary arts, leads her to combine painting, sculpture, performance and photography with a gilding technique using 24-carat gold. Dark canvases enhanced by “layers of light” are her signature; they question the symbolic, socio-political and philosophical significance of the color black and gold.

That universe finds its full expression in the artist’s reinterpretations of the Lady Dior, which she renamed Constellations after her emblematic work: in the manner of a starry sky, a lush landscape, like a subtle weave, is punctuated by multiple handmade gold metal elements in keeping with delicate goldsmithing techniques. Precious talismans, they evoke world cultures – African, Egyptian, aboriginal, pre-Columbian – with rich histories of sacred and ancestral rites. The ornaments are available in four different models – in black, blue or green – creating a unique visual mythology, an ode to an essential heritage that must be preserved, that is more priceless than ever.

JOHAN CRETEN

"A sculpture to be worn, to be transformed.” This is how Johan Creten reinvented the Lady Dior bag. The Belgian-born artist breathes new life into the art of ceramics and creates allegorical sculptures imbued with mystery. His distinctive works highlight his introspection and humanist conscience, as with this creation for Dior, entitled Love Games, imagined as a symbol of a more respectful world. 

Its surface is both soft, being made of suede, and textured, thanks to the effect of sand and resin, evoking the beauty of the Earth, as seen from the sky. A swarm of golden bees, echoing the sculptor's fascination for this majestic insect*, transforms the cannage motif into a precious ornament enhancing this map of the world. This removable ornament adorns the Lady Dior or can be transformed into a delicate plastron. A second royal blue bag is punctuated with hybrid embroidery, reflecting exceptional savoir-faire. Unique visions bearing the dream of a better world, through the joy of art.

*In his emblematic Wargames series, between paintings and sculptures, the bee’s fight for survival becomes a metaphor for the human condition.

MANAL ALDOWAYAN

Bold and committed, Manal AlDowayan questions the representation of women, social injustice and collective memory in her artistic practice. Through her reinterpretation of the Lady Dior bag, which she sees as a space for collaboration and expression, the multi-talented artist wanted to highlight Saudi youth, questioning its role in the evolution of society and confronting tradition and modernity. The first bag was inspired by her artwork The Boys (2016). This bag like her artwork contrasts the old and new images of contemporary Saudi society and how it approaches identity today. 

In the second version she took inspiration from her artwork Landscapes of the Mind (2009), photographic series documenting the landscape in Dhahran, the oil producing city she was born in.The images are enhanced by feathers and embroidery, weaving a dialogue between the palm tree, oil facilities and her relationship to them. Finally, Manal AlDowayan produced a unique sculptural bag inspired by her work with the Desert Rose crystal. The set of three bags convey the aesthetics of her art practice and how it is transferred onto an object of desire. Creating a conversation that is at the intersection of reality and the imagined, with blended shades of gold and silver contrasting against the black and white images ; the introduction of the Arabic lettering to the essential Dior charms, all are details that become emblems of self-exploration. An encounter that extends Manal AlDowayan and Maria Grazia Chiuri’s shared commitment to looking beyond the surface to find beauty in women around the world, and to celebrate their unique experiences within their communities. 

ANTONIN HAKO

Painter, sculptor, and performer, Antonin Hako, draws on a multitude of disciplines, experiences and stories to blur the boundaries between work and living spaces. From his works springs a vital, instinctive and intense energy. His signature: an abstract aesthetic from which there surges a feeling of truth, the urgency of the present moment.

 Driven by a vision in perpetual movement, Antonin Hako’s work is characterized by a great freedom of form and expression with bright colors, from the canvas to flags, hot-air balloons and “frozen draperies” with a very singular energy. Through this search for global art, he questions everyday life and lightness in all their ambiguity. For Dior, the French artist imagines what he calls a “bag in flight,” dressing the iconic Lady Dior in a delicate undulation, its transparency sculpted in translucent resin, as if weightless. The bag’s apparent fragility is contradicted by the material’s glass-like resistance; graphic lines are transformed into ethereal curves. A creation designed like a mirage, a poetic illusion where infinite possibilities blossom.

LEONHARD HURZLMEIER

Having grown up in a family of artists, Leonhard Hurzlmeier soon became aware of his own artistic language, going on to develop a universe that is vivid, joyful and instantly recognizable. Garnering numerous awards, his art travels all over the world and can be divided into two realities: “the fast image,” the one we see, and “the slow image,” the one we interpret. His brightly colored pieces play with shapes and curves notably to present a pluralistic femininity... not without a certain derision. 

Provocative, ambiguous, sometimes erotically charged, sometimes critical, but always humorous, his portraits are a panorama of current debates on identity and gender. In 2017, he moved his singular rhythm toward the motivic world of symbolism. For Dior, he takes the Lady Dior to the frontier between a game and an enigma. Reinventing its graphic lines, he adorns the icon with a female face while the inside of the bag holds her brain, a symbol of a playful new subversion. Perpetuating this idea of duality, his second version reveals a cloud under the rain that turns into a shimmering sun. For his third design, the painter makes a sequin-embroidered mermaid vanish between the front and back of the creation, like a metaphor for an enchanted odyssey. A poem that is free and radical.

YUKIMASA IDA

Sensitive to art from an early age, Yukimasa Ida grew up in the studio of his sculptor father, where his creative vision was awakened. Multiplying colors and material effects, his works trigger intense, spontaneous emotions. Bridging abstraction and realism, his universe is inspired by the Japanese concept "ICHI-GO ICHI-E", based on exalting the present moment. 

Fascinated by the passage of time, the artist constantly questions the subtleties of existence and elevates the wonder of encounters. For Dior Lady Art, he reinvents the Lady Dior bag using the impasto technique, superimposing layers of paint and minerals drawn from the earth. Plural and vibrant, the shades and pigments with their textured finish reflect his signature usual palette. In this poetic reinterpretation this House icon comes alive to the rhythm of the brushstrokes in movement, vibrant and powerful, like the artist’s poignant portraits.

DAISUKE OHBA

Daisuke Ohba asserts his singular signature through hypnotic illusions, obtained through holographic effects. His textured canvases feature changing colors which perpetually shift according to the light and the position of the viewer in a given space. The Japanese artist views his works as sensory experiences where perception is disrupted, constantly evolving, playing with the surrounding elements. For Dior, he reproduced on the Lady Dior his creation entitled M, depicting the world in the form of a disc engraved with grooves, in a bewitching iridescent version. 

Hidden inside are lines and droplets left by the trajectory of a rapidly spinning top from his work MAY, hinting at scattered stars, meteors and plant vines. A digital charm allows the viewer to observe the painting with different lighting; an invitation to interact with the iconic bag. Two other models inspired by SPECTRUM by the artist evoke the sea and undulating waves through pearlescent pigments; the first, in embossed leather, is a near-perfect reproduction of the expression and rich colors of its brushstrokes, while the second, in knit embroidered with shiny threads and glass pearls, reflects the House's couture savoir-faire. Accompanying them is an elliptic snowdome in which a Dior ship poetically sails – extending the homage to the Normandy landscapes of Monsieur Dior's childhood. A celebration of memories and nature, combining innovation, the pluralistic riches of Japan and the unique heritage of Dior.

LI SONGSONG

Through thickly painted surfaces representing themes from modern and contemporary Chinese history, Li Songsong questions the fluctuating objectivity of memory and souvenirs. Inspired by images from the public domain, his works feature cut-out scenes; the sections, treated in a range of color palettes and textures, symbolize the multiplicity of perceptions of a same theme, a signature that the Chinese artist reaffirms in his interpretation of the iconic bag. 

After revisiting it for the first time in 2008, in the form of a monumental neon sculpture exhibited at UCCA*, Li Songsong once again reinvents the lines of the Lady Dior bag by adapting one of his print works, Swordsmanship (III), on three different sizes, each enhanced by a subtle patchwork of colors and materials. As singular as they are complementary, when assembled the bags reconstitute the work in its entirety, like an audacious, fascinating triptych.

*The Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, a private contemporary art center located in Beijing.