Not Just For The Eyes
Anyone who aims to turn himself into an ‘artwork’ requires more than just physical alterations
Clothes, makeup, and body modification are just starting points in a person’s transformation to a virtual ‘artwork’. One has to cultivate the mind too. After all, artworks are not only for the eyes
Has anyone told you that “You are a work of Art”? That expression, which implies you’re immaculately presented and stand out from the crowd – like a work of Art – fascinates me. It made me think that if we developed ourselves into a ‘works of Art’, what impression will we leave our audience? Will we be able to evoke emotions and capture attention – like a fine work of Art? If we see ourselves as artists of our own lives, and our bodies as the canvas to express our thoughts, style, emotions and personalities, what will our masterpiece look like? For that reason, I love the concept of fashion as wearable Art, as it allows you to communicate your ideas and style through fashion pieces, running the gamut from high fashion to street wear, vintage and haute couture. The way we put together a ‘look’ is an artistic expression of our taste; we can use fashion to send out subliminal messages of confidence (a power suit) or classic elegance (an LBD). Some of us put more thought into our sartorial choices than others and having been on the receiving end, more often than not, of comments like, “You are all dressed up! Where are you going?”. I like to think of fashion as an accessible art form for anyone who is interested in expressing their own emotions and ideas. We can choose to paint with watercolors or sculpt with bronze or play dress up with fashion. It’s all Art, for art’s sake, to me. Fashion on it’s own can literally be works of art. An obvious name that comes to mind is of course iconic Japanese fashion designer Rei Kawakubo, founder of Commes des Garçons and Dover Street Market. Her exquisite avant-garde works are truly wearable art – an amalgamation of fashion, art and architecture. If ever there was any debate or doubt on whether fashion is Art, one look at Rei’s works and everything is settled, breaking the boundaries between the two. In fact, she was the subject of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s The Costume Institute’s Spring 2017 exhibition, Rei Kawakubo/ Commes des Garçons: Art of In-between, curated by Mr. Andrew Bolton, head curator of The Met’s Costume Institute. It’s only the second time that the costume institute featured a living designer since their exhibition on Yves Saint Laurent in 1983. On why he chose Rei Kawakubo as the second living designer, Mr. Bolton said: “Just look at the clothes; they speak for themselves.” He should know better, having previously explored complex themes in fashion as art like The Costume Institute’s 2016 exhibition, ‘Manus vs Machina’. As Mr. Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of the Met once said about Bolton: “Curator Andrew Bolton will
explore work that often looks like sculpture in an exhibition that will challenge our ideas about fashion’s role in contemporary culture.” When I think of creating versions of ourselves as ‘works of Art’, besides fashion, as the obvious armor and canvas, the art of makeup is clearly the next obvious element in our representation of ourselves, as if we are works of art. The tools are similar too! Brushes and colour palettes, anyone? Makeup artists often extol the importance of a clean and clear complexion as it is like a ‘canvas’ for them to paint on. The face is the blank canvas for magical makeup art to happen. It’s transformative, brings out beauty, requires skills, tools and an eye for details, much like any other art forms that allow one to express creativity. too; lifting, cutting, pulling, filling – the way a bronze or marble bust is chiseled to perfection by the artist. Subconsciously, we are working on our face and body like we are a ‘work of Art’. Of course being a ‘work of Art’ is more than just the superficial and physical. Like an engaging play, one needs personality, intelligence, wit, humor and confidence to bring an artwork to life. We need to add depth and dimension to our developmental process. The constant hunger for knowledge and selfimprovement is what keeps us evolving, like an artist whose works ‘mature’ over time, and project new inspirations and ideas. The goal is not about completing the ‘artwork’ but rather to keep working on being a work of art.
REI KAWAKUBO CROSSES THE DIVIDE BETWEEN ART AND FASHION IN HER WORK