Bringing Art to Life
Art comes in many shapes and forms, and some would say we are surrounded by it all of the time. The intricate designs, delicate patterns and awe-inspiring forces of nature, as well as our own emotional depths as human beings, inspire us to create and surround ourselves with beauty – a constant source of happiness and inspiration. A painting is an artist’s way of emulating this beauty and sharing with the world an intimate insight into their own interpretation. Why then do we so often constrict these artworks to the enclosed, silent halls and walls of galleries, museums and private collections? This is a question that inspired prominent artist, poet and writer, Louis Jansen van Vuuren, to expand and spread his beautiful and distinctive oil and pastel creations in various forms.
From stunning silk squares, runners and scatter cushions to table tops, shoes, and his exquisite collection of handbags, Jansen van Vuuren is extending his masterful creative flair in applications that are both functional and dazzling to look at. Born in South Africa, this internationally acclaimed artist and creative resides with his partner, Hardy Olivier, in their magnificent château in the French countryside where he paints, creates, and writes in-between finding unique ways of bringing the unsurpassed beauty of art to places it can be enjoyed by all.
We recently caught up with the artist to find out more about his exciting range of handbags and other collectables:
SLOW: What initially inspired your decision to extend your artwork from canvas to your impressive range of collectables?
Louis Jansen van Vuuren (LJVV): When visiting the newly remodelled Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam I was bowled over by the most inventive applications of his art-work to collectable items – from a Starry Night puzzle to an Iris handbag. And then, of course, there is the Louis Vuitton Masters range where the Mona Liza appears on a stylish handbag . . .
SLOW: You have created works of art on bags, cushions, shoes, aprons and even tables. What do you wish for buyers to take away from an LJVV purchase?
LJVV: That art may venture from the hallowed halls of silence into the street, where it belongs – amongst the people! I
once passed a crowded tearoom and saw one of my bags next to the table at a young designer’s feet. It looked spectacular!
SLOW: We simply love your selection of designer handbags. Can you tell us about the creative journey that inspired this particular collection?
LJVV: A few years ago, friends of mine who had a handbag design section in one of their Cape Town businesses suggested we create a beautiful tote bag that featured one of my paintings on it. I was then working on a series of oil paintings of my favourite city, Paris. The Paris bag was born and it created quite a stir. Years passed and the opportunity presented itself once more when Marné Erasmus Mynhardt of Mitat and I worked together creating the Icon range of bags.
SLOW: What is the process of getting the artwork onto the handbags?
LJVV: It is an exciting process that starts in the studio on my easel. Sometimes we combine several paintings to create one side of the bag. Recently, with more intricate and complicated designs, I worked with several young designers that do the sizing, scaling and branding of the designs for me. Once the artwork is done, it gets photographed in high resolution, colour checked and tweaked, and transformed to a special printer that transfers the image onto leather, eco-leather or any other suitable substrate.
SLOW: It has been said that a handbag divulges a great deal about someone’s personality. What are your thoughts on this? What does a LJVV original designer handbag say about its wearer?
LJVV: I do agree with that statement – a handbag is more than a visiting card, it says “this is who I am”, “this is how I present myself today”. The person sporting an LJVV original dares to be different and has confidence in her creative judgment. She is a trendsetter, not a follower of the mediocre, massproduced that surrounds us.
SLOW: Can you tell us a bit about the different styles?
LJVV: At the moment there are three series to select from: 1. The Lululux range that is colourful, bold
and excitingly playful. 2. The LJVV range consists of contemporary designs with a classy metropolitan attitude. 3. The LJVV La Creuzette limited range that features iconic images of South African artists’ work. We started with three Irma Stern paintings that are beguiling and expressive. Each signed and numbered bag comes with a matching 90 cm x 90 cm Silk Square.
SLOW: What other exciting collectibles do you have in mind for the future?
LJVV: I am working on several wonderful projects, including a range of sensuous botanical velvet prints and a series of gilded ceramics.
SLOW: How has this extension of your artwork inspired you?
LJVV: It has opened up a brand new world to me – a wondrous place that I explore with enthusiasm and excitement. I donated one of my silk squares to a French friend and one night at the Paris opera she was wearing this blue and gold LJVV silk creation loosely tied around her neck. What joy! She was most probably sporting Dior – with LJVV around her neck!
SLOW: What has been your favourite collectable to work on and why?
LJVV: It’s impossible to select less than three favourites: silk, ceramic, and organic fabric like hemp or linen. Any substrate that will receive my artwork with open arms – canvas, perspex and even bamboo!
Spread the beauty by becoming the proud owner of your very own LJVV designer collectable. To view the collection, visit the online Mitat store at www.mitat.co.za/product-category/ljvv. For more info on Jansen van Vuuren, visit www.louisjansenvanvuuren.com.