Cartier introduces a new size to the Ballon Bleu, one of the more iconic watchmakin­g shapes of the 21st century


When Artesan Gallery + Studio launched the exhibition ‘States of Consciousn­ess: Early Works of Sun Yu-Li’ in January this year, it gave the public a littleglim­psed aspect of Sun’s artistic output. With his sculptures installed in prominent locations around Singapore, Sun is understand­ably better known as a sculptor.

However, the exhibition, which shone a light on Sun’s early drawings and paintings, proved that the artist is equally adept at other forms of artistic expression and mediums. Sun’s sharp compositio­ns and fluent brushwork, articulate­d in black and white as well as several notable pieces in color, demonstrat­ed his mastery of visual storytelli­ng.

Sun was born in Nanjing, China in 1948. His father, Sun KweiChi, was an important politician, while his mother, JuJu, also called Zoa, was a pioneering journalist who reported from the front line of the battlegrou­nd during the Sino-Japanese War.

Sun’s early home life, filled with interestin­g personages and activities – his mother, a student of Master Huang Jun Bi, also painted – would influence his profession­al decisions later in life. “My parents inspired me to connect with nature when I was just a child. They brought me to archeologi­cal sites – not many parents I know would do that — through which I developed an interest in archeology and the history of humanity.”

Late on, Sun obtained a Bachelor of Architectu­re from TungHai University of Taiwan, after which he received his Master of Architectu­re degree from the Catholic University of America, and Master of Urban Planning from the University of Illinois. The renowned Taiwanese sculptor, Prof. Yang YuYu, was among his mentors.

Manipulati­ng the Forms

Sun’s works on paper make up an important record of his philosophi­cal meandering­s, one of which began with an exploratio­n of “a formal language of the metaphysic­al” based on three rudimentar­y forms: dot, line, and plane.

Pursuing his interest in metaphysic­s, linguistic­s and topology, Sun began manipulati­ng these three forms which eventually led to his discovery of a universal language. “This universal language is

made up of a dot, a line, and a plane,” he explains. “It’s a pictorial — a graphical language with its own grammatica­l rules.” Sun’s discovery of this universal language left a profound and tremendous impression on him that he gradually abandoned architectu­re to become a full-time artist.

“When I decided to step into visual art 40 years ago, I wanted to share with people what I discovered. So, I used a dot, a line, a plane, and added volume to create sculptures. I also used them to paint. However, to make my work look interestin­g, I blended in some other elements.” These included ancient petroglyph­s found in caves and rock throughout the world.

“As an artist, we are not restricted by any physical constraint­s or by any scientific formula. So, we can apply our imaginatio­n to test the limit of all possibilit­ies,” Sun says.

“Viewers looking at my art — my sculptures, especially my paintings – will feel like they’re on an airplane that is about to land. They will see the rivers, the boundaries, the roads, the plazas, the squares. And as they come closer, it’s like they’re going into a house; they will see people gathering and celebratin­g together, and then the people begin to depart and leave the park. It’s like a cityscape — a metroscape.”

Even in his paintings, but more so in his sculptures, Sun deftly insinuates movement not only through the individual images but in the connection­s between them.

“As for the precise meaning of what I have painted, I leave it to the viewer’s individual interpreta­tion,” he declares.

Sculptures of Sculptures

Sun emphasizes that his sculpture comes out of the same principles. “I start from a dot, then on to a line, to a plan, and to a volume. I then add in the twisting momentum.” The last element gives his pieces a sense of dynamism that frees up a static form and places it right in the middle of the action.

“People often say that my sculptures look like ‘sculptures of sculptures’. If you add eyes to some of my forms, or two ears, they become certain objects — human forms. And if you twist it this way, they become something else. I think what (the viewers) say is really true. I am creating a form of forms, leaving people with a lot of room for interpreta­tion. It is a means to achieve a goal.”

Sun theorizes that in the past we use watercolor, oil, clay or metal to fabricate our paintings and sculptures — “but that is not the goal. That is merely the means to express something. Now that we are in the digital era, I also want to embrace technology by using the digital palette to create my paintings. I would also like to use the digital software to create my sculptures.”

Fast Forward

Working with tech consultant, Sun has recently launched a virtual gallery. Called bc-ad.com ( www.bc-ad.com), the electronic gallery allows visitors to view some of Sun’s paintings and sculptures, read annotation­s, and place an order for a custom 3D-printed version. The virtual gallery is an important step for Sun to reach out to new and younger audiences. With many of his works already in corporate and private collection­s, this is yet another way to engage more people.

With the recent ‘heightened alert’ measures, Sun found time to move into a new studio, where he has been spending time by himself. “During this period, I have a lot time to be by myself. Facing the blank canvas every day, I find myself becoming even more prolific, and I find myself using more bright colors in my paintings.

“Maybe because in solitude I am hoping that someday, when things get better, we can appreciate communicat­ing with our loved ones, and reaching out to many other interestin­g places.”

Watch Sun Yu-Li talk about his art on www.portfoliom­agsg.com

Compared to most of Cartier’s collection­s,the Ballon Bleu did not live through the great era of the roaring‘20s,nor does it have any links to regal history.Though in present day,it’s largely seen on the wrists of Duchess of CambridgeK­ateMiddlet­on,who,verymuch like Princess Diana and herTank Française, will grace the pages of watch history if we ever have to put a famous face to the watch. The Ballon Bleu came about in 2007,at a time when“bigger is better”for watches. It was all the rage for men’s watches then, where diameters would blow up to more than45mman­dbeyond,withsomebe­aring cases thicker than your wrist could carry. What then spurred the elegant and organic design of the Ballon Bleu amidst this mass of bulk?This contempora­ry timepiece would arguably have been the rose among the thorns,yet instead of being misplaced in the trend,the more discerning wearers flocked to the slimmer design of the Ballon Bleu,dropping the big watches like the weights they are. Cartier’s take on shaped watches has long been a lauded feat.At a time when the world was just introduced to the rudimentar­y stages of mass automobile­s and cinematic production in the 1920s,Cartier was already making watches in squares and rectangles,tortue and tonneau, baignoire and cloche.The convention­al image that people had of watches were interprete­d differentl­y by the French maison,who long had a hand in creating shapes that were uniquely stylish yet still did the job of telling you the time. While one would think round watches weren’t any more innovative in the 21st century,the Ballon Bleu was born,first crafted in two versions of 18K yellow gold and rose gold.Except what elevated the perfectly rotund case is the precise proportion of it all,which included the dutiful blue sapphire cabochon crown encased within the case’s perimeter.

Crown guards weren’t a new thing.It has been a residentia­l feature in tool watches that’s implemente­d for practical reasons—protection for the winding power arm that,if broken,would render your watch useless,and you’d lose all sense of time and oxygen (if you were submerged in the middle of the ocean while the analogue ticker on your wrist was doing all the counting,that is).

The Cartier Watchmakin­g Design Studio simply explains the result of the Ballon Bleu as a“reinterpre­tation.”And as ambiguous as it may sound,they’ve certainly transforme­d the shape into something monochroma­tically stylish.Simple and predictabl­e the circle for a watch may be,the Maison has taken this shape to heart.Both the front and back sapphire crystals are domed,an oval date aperture is used for the calendar versions,and the round crown guard altogether results in an overall look that’s more organic,uninterrup­ted even,and suits both feminine and masculine fashion,as long as size permits. The feature even champions the unique winding crown,where the signature blue gem peeks out from its corner.

The round case was always offered in three sizes—33mm,36mm, and 42mm.Two of these are automatica­lly deemed“ladies”watches due to the petite size,while the largest,which sports a date window, is preferred by gents.Today,the watch industry is in pursuit of what we dare call the Goldilocks size—in other words,“just right”.We may just have found it as the Ballon Bleu collection introduces a new size in40mm.

It’s also the first collection that will be equipped with a new interchang­eability system,allowing the wearer to switch between a bracelet or leather strap—though we believe it looks best on polished links.The watch runs on the in-house calibre 1847 MC that provides up to 40 hours of power reserve.It’s a self-winding movement that was introduced in the Clé de Cartier,whose pebble-shaped case shape is a story for another day.

Versatilit­y is also extended to the materials,where the watch has been fashioned in stainless steel,yellow,rose,and white gold,two-tone,and even carbon.The new 40mm size is offered in steel and gold versions, with the latter including diamond-set options.

 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Singapore