Hermès Sydney Windows by artist Gwon Osang
Hermès commissioned Korean artist Gwon Osang to create an installation for their Sydney store, exploring the 2016 theme for the fashion and luxury house, Nature at Full Gallop. At full gallop it is, boldly and beautifully displaying sculpture for the digital age.
Across the six windows of the prominent Hermès Sydney storefront, life-size sculptures are displayed with a digital twist in the installation by Gwon Osang entitled ‘Art of the Image_New Sculpture’. Glossy, almost frozen-in-time scenes are displayed – a modern take on the traditional artistic maxim of man and beast, all painstakingly produced in a lengthy series of photography, Styrofoam modelling, and pasting, or …photo-sculpture. A life-like interpretation of male model Sung Jin Park takes centre stage surrounded by wildlife (tigers, falcons, owls, goats et al) and lacquered still-life arrangements of Hermès apparel, including the Bolide 45 Shark Bag.
Anything but the tortured artist, Gwon Osang has a lust for life: family, including his two kittens, Ducati motorcycles, and riding around Bali on his honeymoon. His art appears full of contrast, irony, of hidden meaning but really Gwon Osang just wants you to enjoy the scenery…
Your collaboration with Hermès is intriguing. Can you tell us a little more about the relationship between art and fashion? And how contemporary art can coexist with traditional luxury?
“Hermès have always had a passion for the pursuit of art, the beauty of art as well as the spirit of craftsmanship. Contemporary artists want to create by using new language to create a design, a new scene. So I believe that when the two components are joined together we can create more artistic scenes.”
Classically trained in sculpture, was this always your artistic passion?
“My passion for art, and particularly sculpture, started when I was in middle school, about the age of 15. I was interested in sculpture, studied sculpture and majored with a masters degree in sculpture. I have always been interested in all fields of form but now I am more strongly interested in the traditional sculptural shapes to express modern concepts.”
When did you begin to explore using photography to create your sculptures?
“I was studying in university when the original idea came to mind. The reason was that the traditional materials for sculpture are very heavy (for example wood and stone) so I began to think about what other material I could use to create sculptures…”
You must be very patient, can you please tell us a little more about the craft – the photography of the subject appears to be a lengthy and exact process…
“I take photos of my object and based on their photographs I actually shape (cut) a 3-dimensional sculpture. Whereas other artists may Google the photos and then collect. The only subjects we don’t photograph are animals such as tigers where it’s virtually impossible to take live photos. After we have the photos, we start to stick the photos onto the sculpture which already has been cut. It takes a very long time to process (about two months!). After they are completed, we need to coat them, then it is a finished.”
How satisfying is it to see the finished sculpture?
“Frankly speaking, the work process takes too long, I am sick of it! Many times I have a feeling of ‘oh I never want to see it again’. When the object is about 80% complete, that’s when I feel the beauty of it and I’m very satisfied. And I’m very excited and very happy and can then also imagine when it’s a completely new product and it’s displayed in a showroom or in an art gallery – then I am ecstatic.”
You are breaking from tradition by showing your contemporary art in a store window. What is the future of exhibiting in your opinion?
“My artwork usually displays in the art gallery. However I believe that generally artwork will be progressed – the future direction will be this: the general public, even through fashion, will be able to see and enjoy my artwork and there will be continued collaborations between the different industries such as fashion and art.”
What can we look forward to next from Gwon Osang?
“At the beginning of September I have an exhibition in New York, November in Shanghai, and in December back in Seoul – all solo shows in art galleries.
In some ways, I broke the cycle with traditional ways When I created the new sculpture. I created new methods, new techniques, and processes for contemporary sculpture. I’m now interested in the reverse – to show that by using traditional materials and methods you can create something new and fresh… traditional methods and classical shapes to express modern concepts.
For thousands of years, artists have used the traditional ways to create sculptures. It is a task of each era – people who live in each era – using their [current] scientific way. Now I believe it is my task too, to use scientific methods available in my time, my era, to create sculptures: 3D printing and modeling techniques using traditional materials (such as stone and bronze) to create a classic sculpture conveyed in a contemporary manner.”
At IN/OUT, we like to explore what inspires people to live a beautiful life. Can you tell us what this means to you?
“I am a bit different from the general public’s perception of an artist. I finish work at 7pm. I feel that this brings happiness. Because if an artist works throughout the night, it’s not possible to keep working year after year. I’ve been married for five years. My family is my wife and two kittens, and a baby due in February next year. In my ordinarily daily life, I feel that these elements create a happy life.
Some artists live very unhappy and unfortunate lives. I am an artist and I have that job but I don’t want to be the ‘tortured artist’. Because an artist life is not normal, I, therefore, make an effort to shape my lifestyle to be as normal as possible. In some cases in Korea, the man and woman get consent from their parents for marriage. Moreover, most families avoid a man who has a job as an artist… Ever since I was young I was scared that situation would arise in my life, but very fortunately, I am married and I live a life.”
Life and art lessons from Gwon Osang. Go and see the windows at Hermès Sydney, groundbreaking on many levels.
Gwon Osang’s installation, ‘Art of The Image_New Sculpture’, in collaboration with Hermès is on display at the Sydney store (135 Elizabeth St, Sydney) until November 25.