Fashion house Hermès has long been synonymous with its iconic silk scarves, premium leather goods and the coveted Birkin bag. But another noteworthy aspect about the luxury brand is its dedication to art. In 2008, it launched the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès, which supports projects centred on design and the arts, and currently runs five art spaces around the world.
One of these is Aloft at Hermès, which is situated on the top floor of the brand’s Liat Towers store. The gallery recently launched Here from Here, an exhibition showcasing an art installation and pencil sketches by French artist Agathe de Bailliencourt. The showcase is also part of the ongoing Singapore Biennale.
Based in Berlin, de Bailliencourt is known for her eclectic works that range from canvas and linen artpieces, to outdoor installations that involve urban spaces, architecture and nature. At her ongoing presentation at Aloft, it is hard to miss her installation, which is so large it fills up a room. It is composed of gravel painted in six different shades of blue, and carefully assembled to form a gradient. The result is a calming, almost hypnotic, sea of blue that calls to mind a Japanese Zen garden.
We recently met up with de Bailliencourt at the unveiling of her exhibition, where she shared some insight to her art and the inspiration behind them.
Lifestyle Asia (LSA): What inspired the creation of Here from Here?
Agathe de Bailliencourt (ADB): Emi Eu, the director of Singapore Tyler Print Institute (who curates the gallery), chose “Horizon” as this year’s theme for the gallery. The horizon, especially in painting, is a romantic concept — traditionally a projection of a past or future, without conflict or contradiction. For me, the real horizon is the constant possibility of actual change.
LSA: The exhibition comprises several sketches and an art installation. How exactly are these different works related?
ADB: They speak about the same idea of now, of being present. It’s just the same idea expressed across two different mediums. In the drawings, I even repeated the word “maintenant”, which means “now”. My exhibition is all about being in the moment, not in the future or past. And it speaks about change — that everything changes constantly.
LSA: Your installation is made up of hand-painted pieces of gravel. Why did you pick this as a material?
ADB: The gravel is not so natural, and is a refined, processed material. There’s an ambiguity between nature and its opposite that I find interesting. That’s also why I work with materials such as raw linen [in my other works].
LSA: What was the most challenging part of creating this installation?
ADB: The idea of the installation is simple but its realisation was very technically complex. The gravel pieces were painted one by one, and the arrangement of the gradient had to be very precise.
LSA: Your installation is quite massive. What is the best way to enjoy it?
ADB: To sit on the white bench opposite it, and look at it alone. It’s not the best to see with a lot of people, because it’s about being present somewhere. It’s like a Zen garden, a place where you take a moment for yourself. I think you can have this feeling in any incredible landscape — to be connected to what you see.
LSA: Could you tell us about the significance of the drawings in your exhibition?
ADB: I’m creating landscapes you can read. So some of them [depict] the seashore and earth, while others form the sky, clouds and air. The drawings are simple but precise. These particular drawings in the exhibition were made this summer, during a three-month-long residency I did in Isle of Skye in Scotland. To me, drawing is a process of following my intuition as radically as possible.
Here from Here will be on display until 5 February, 2017.
Aloft at Hermès, 541 Orchard Road, Liat Towers, Singapore 238881, singapore.hermes.com