Never sleep: the winner of the 2017 Rijksstudio Award is keeping our eyes wide open
This year’s Rijksstudio Award – a public competition that challenges contestants to use the Rijksmuseum’s collection to inspire new works – attracted an array of quirky entries. For the first time, the prize-giving ceremony, held at the Amsterdam museum on 21 April, included a work voted for by the public online.
In a truly international event – the 10 finalists hail from nine countries – the judges’ first prize went to Belarusian designer Lesha Limonov. His ‘Never Sleep’, a series of sleeping masks printed with eyes from paintings in the Rijksmuseum collection, was inspired by Dutch painter Johannes Cornelisz Verspronck’s 1641 Portrait of a Girl Dressed in Blue. ‘When night begins and the museum halls empty, the art masterpieces stay awake and look from the darkness,’ says the designer.
The public’s prize-winning project, by American architects Francine Leclercq and Ali Soltani, pays tribute to Dutch Delftware with a simultaneous nod to Marcel Duchamp’s critical views on ‘retinal art’ (art that is solely visual). ‘Delft Blue Eyes & Nails’ is a set of non-prescriptive contact lenses printed with a 17th century Delft Blue pattern, and set of matching nail art decals.
Also infusing art into daily life, the first runners-up, Spaniards Esther Pi and Timo Waag, rejuvenate engravings and etchings classics by masters from Rembrandt to Dürer to attract new audience in an alluring way with their ‘Eden’ condoms packaged in images of Adam and Eve; while the second runner-up, British designer Jessie Hall, created knotty knitted towering cosies inspired by Karl Blossfeldt’s 1928 Plantstudie.