Hauser & Wirth and Akris celebrate Geta Brătescu
‘I was fascinated by the light in her eyes. She embodied the spirit and life force of a young person,’ explains Akris’ creative director Albert Kriemler, of his first meeting with nonagenarian multimedia artist Geta Brătescu. After discovering Brătescu’s work at Athens’ Documenta 14 fair in 2017, Kriemler visited the Romanian artist in her notebook-stacked, artwork-lined Bucharest studio in February 2018, to discuss the possibility of working together on a fashion collaboration.
Kriemler is renowned for his art-fuelled take on fashion. For Akris’ A/W 2018 collection, shimmering gold accents nodded to the work of Gustav Klimt, while the colourful figurative prints in the brand’s S/S 2018 offering evoked the wooden doll designs of Alexander Girard. Kriemler’s S/S 2019 collection for the Swiss house is an ode to Brătescu’s playful and experimental aesthetic, and features references to a variety of her artworks, spanning photomontage and abstract portraiture. Sadly, Brătescu was never able to see the collaboration fully realised on the catwalk. She passed away at the age of 92, two weeks before the Akris S/S 2019 show at Paris Fashion Week.
Dress, £3,530, by Akris. Photography: Aylin Bayhan
‘The spirit of joyfulness and humour pervades Brătescu’s oeuvre,’ says Kriemler. ‘I also wanted to imbue my collection with this joie de vivre.’ Fluid shapes abound in the collection, from long pleated skirts to gauzy jackets, transparent kaftans to relaxed tailoring, in tan, icy blues, sherbet pink and black. A series of greyscale prints nod to Brătescu’s 1974 photomontage series ‘Magnets in the City’, which saw horseshoe magnets collaged onto images of public spaces around Bucharest. Silver magnets also act as sculptural closures on tailored jackets. ‘Brătescu’s work acts as a metaphor for how humans are attracted to each other – or not!’ Kriemler says. ‘It’s also a symbol of willpower and determination.’
Last week, Akris celebrated the opening of ‘Geta Brătescu. The Power of the Line’ at Hauser & Wirth in London, with a runway show of its S/S 2019 collection. The exhibition features an important body of works from the past decade, during which time Brătescu focused predominantly on working with the line as a structuring principle. For Akris’ spring collection, thick graphic lines and bold colour blocking nod to Brătescu’s captivation with line and shape, while a series of abstract figurative prints, emblazoned across ponchos, cross-body bags and polo shirts, reflect her playful experimentations with self-portraiture. ‘Brătescu’s way of seeing line as the backbone of her art relates very much to a designer’s work’, Kriemler adds. ‘Fashion begins with this. It is always the line that defines the silhouette.’ §