Wednesday, September 16, 2009
apocalypse now... from cai guo-qiang to rodarte
My last portion of the trip is dedicated to Bilbao landmark - the Guggenheim Museum designed by Frank Ghery. It was quite surreal to see this massive curved and twisted titanium architecture right in front of my eyes. Though I was actually more impressed by the interior than the exterior, as the grandiosity of the building seemed to translate better in photographs than in real life. I thought each space and every room was designed and utilized brilliantly. The entire visit was a thoroughly pleasant one, and so smooth that I almost forgot about the odd architectural shapes of the museum. But what I was most intrigued about was the current exhibition, Cai Guo-Qiang: I Want to Believe. Cai is a Chinese contemporary artist who is probably most recently known for his "Footprints" fireworks project for the 2008 Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony. His work ranges from drawings to sculptures to large-scale installations and land-art projects. I was particularly in awe (and in love) with his signature gunpowder paintings, which I immediately linked to Rodarte's latest runway collection especially after hearing the Mulleavy sisters talk about their inspiration (click here for wwd's video).
Cai's gunpowder paintings are an aftermath of explosions, really, because they are created by spreading gunpowder on paper and literally setting it on fire to burn it. While the main drawing is carefully thought out, the burning reactions are naturally uncontrollable, allowing the paintings to have a raw, almost accidental effect, and the end result is surprisingly strong and beautiful.
Rodarte's SS10 collection, to me, evokes the same kind of apocalyptic feeling as Cai's paintings. The clothes carry a primal aesthetic, especially with the tribal arm tattoos, but they cry for a fierce, modern woman. Fabrics are torn, shredded, burned, taken apart and then constructed into these painfully beautiful garments. Dress shapes may seem familiar compared to some of past seasons, but the techniques, craftsmanship, and clear vision seen on the runway have proved Kate and Laura Mulleavy deserving of their CFDA award in every way.
Images via Cai Guo-Qiang's official website caiguoqiang.com, style.com