Greek mythology inspires a Dries Van Noten-curated exhibition in Tokyo

Greek mythology inspires a Dries Van Noten-curated exhibition in Tokyo

Dries Van Noten, the Antwerp-based fashion designer known for his exquisite prints and bold colors, harbors another talent: art curation. His eclectic universe, a sort of curation in itself, was celebrated in the exhibition Dries van Noten  Inspirations, held at Paris’ Musée des Arts Décoratifs in 2014. There, a number of his favorite paintings, photographs, films and costumes from spanning periods, places and styles were gathered. 

Now, the designer has cut the ribbon on a new three day exhibition at Hara Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo. The show is, according to him, ‘a dialogue’ between art pieces from different eras and origins. Among three groups, the protagonist is a pair of Flemish paintings by the 17th century master Gérard De Lairesse, taken from Van Noten’s personal collection. In 2009 these three-metre-high masterpieces were transferred from the designer’s Antwerp headquarters to his Tokyo flagship.


Untitled (2009), by Mika Ninagawa. Photography: Kiruke Watanabe

For the store’s inauguration a decade ago, Noten wanted to find something to juxtapose with the baroque works which point to his Flemish origin. His light bulb moment came with commissioning Japanese artists to ‘interpret’ the paintings. In spite of the dramatic Greek mythological scenes seen in De Lairesse’s work, interestingly, Tokyoite artists expressed themselves in an opposite manner. The result was an oil painting by Yuumi Domoto as well as a photograph by Mika Ninagawa, both coincidentally abstract and monochromatic. Eventually a pair of acrylic paintings of geometric motifs by Daisuke Ohba joined them. All of these art works, either contemporary or baroque, have been sharing the roof since then, and are also featured in the ‘Interpretations, Tokyo’ show.

Now, the Store’s tenth anniversary sees new ‘interpretations’ by three more artists: Masaho Anotani expresses the cycle of life and death and two sides of the same coin in two paintings. A pair of blood-coloured pieces by Naho Ishii focus on the epic side of a Greek odyssey. While Ataru Sato imagines the sequel to the story of Achilles in four pieces using different mediums.

For Van Noten, commissioning artwork for the exhibition meant a total ‘carte blanche’ approach, with zero indications for size, style nor medium. After the exhibition, the pieces will be displayed at the Dries Van Noten Tokyo store. New decade, new curation. §

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