Yellow Is Forbidden: Designer Guo Pei

When Rihanna walked the red carpet at the 2015 Met Gala sporting a 25-kilo dress spun from gold and fox fur, the fashion world gawked, and a new star was born: Chinese designer Guo Pei. Raised in Beijing (and still based there), Guo has become much more than a top fashion personage—being Chinese, she is both a living example of China’s rising fortunes and a political symbol, whether she wishes to be or not (she says not), of the possibilities for achievement under the Chinese regime. (It is not for nothing that Time magazine put her on its list of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2016).

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Now, the legendary designer’s story has spurred the new documentary Yellow is Forbidden, made by Auckland filmmaker Pietra Brettkelly.

Brettkelly’s deep-dive chronicle of Guo as person, fashion star and emblem benefits enormously from the fact that she had full cooperation from the energetic designer. But this isn’t hagiography: the behind-the-scenes access to the preparations for Guo’s make-or-break Paris runway show, while both fascinating and tense, show the conflicted side of the fashion world and Guo’s place in it.

With a client list that includes Beyonce and Rihanna, fashion lovers ought to be waiting on the edge of their seats to see this eye-opening story and Vancouverites have the chance to see the film on the big screen this week at the Vancouver International Film Festival. Yellow is Forbidden (https://goviff.org/yellow-is-forbidden/) is playing Oct 7 & 10, with Guo Pei herself set to attend the film’s opening screening at the Vancouver Playhouse on the 7th, ahead of an exhibition of her work titled Guo Pei: Couture Beyond opening at the Vancouver Art Gallery (https://www.vanartgallery.bc.ca/the_exhibitions/exhibit_guopei.html) later this month.

More information about Yellow is Forbidden can be found at the VIFF website: https://goviff.org/yellow-is-forbidden/)

For $2 off your ticket price, order online with the promo code VF18YELLOW

 

Trailer: https://vimeo.com/262913757

 

Playground in the Desert: Coachella

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Imagining my childhood I can clearly remember being curious about the ordinary and looking at everything with wonder. Walking through the entrance into Coachella there is a palpable shift in energy, where each individual is filled with this feeling. Coachella, a music and arts festival based in Southern California, is a wonderland for the child at heart. There’s a youthful excitement about all aspects of the festival. The fashion, food, and artwork are all so awe-inspiring, let alone the music. Coachella felt like a playground, a place to be in the moment (besides making sure to post insta worthy photos on social media) and a place to have fun.

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The fashion is unlike normal streetwear, it’s more edgy and adventurous. Every festival-goer expressed themselves through their carefully curated look. From swimsuits to rompers and everything in between, almost every style was on display.

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The food is a whole new adventure, and also played on the idea of nostalgia. Restaurants such as Mom’s Spaghetti, which offered a classic spaghetti and meatballs, brought each individual back to their childhood. Or, Seabirds vegan grilled cheese with creamy pesto offered a new twist on a classic favourite.

And of course the main event, the music, was just as attention-grabbing. Odesza’s performance featured futuristic drones, which moved into different formations throughout their songs. Petit Biscuit performed with a lot of energy, with screens showing space graphics of the universe.

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The artwork was so playful and captivating. The Do Lab stage was a beautifully created tent-like area which featured a flower-like water gun, reminding me of gym class when students would sit underneath a large coloured parachute. Even the Balloon Chain, by Robert Bose, which featured a line of balloons leading to the sky was a marvel. The artpiece Lodestar by Randy Polumbo, was something out of a storybook.

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Coachella is about living in the moment, a huge party set in a desert playground. I’ll definitely be back next year.

Polaroid images taken by Alexa Wenzel.

Takashi Murakami: The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg

A retrospective exhibition on Murakami at Vancouver Art Gallery

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Takashi Murakami Tan Tan Bo Puking - a.k.a. Gero Tan, 2002 acrylic on canvas mounted on board

Vancouverites, you may have spotted the huge coloured octopus adorning the roof of the Vancouver Art Gallery on your walks along Georgia Street. So what is said larger than life creature? -it's a new major public artwork from Takashi Murakami, a Japanese contemporary artist, whose retrospective is happening right now at VAG. It’s as if Murakami’s work is crawling out of the gallery space enticing us to come inside.

Takashi Murakami Kansei Gold, 2008 acrylic and gold leaf on canvas

Kicking off the spring season in style, Takashi Murakami: The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg is in fact the first ever major retrospective of Takashi Murakami’s work showcased in Canada. Micro Macro, on the hunt for visual intrigue, entered the world of Takashi Murakami for an immersive art experience; just like stepping inside Murakami’s creative, eccentric brain.

Murakami's huge canvases present a massive scale that is truly awe-inspiring, and fills the white gallery space with vibrant brilliant colour, creating a strong impact.

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Takashi Murakami Flowers, flowers, flowers, 2010 acrylic and platinum leaf on canvas mounted on aluminium frame

Featuring over 55 impressive paintings and sculptures, the work makes up a colourful frenzy of energy. Taking a closer look at Murakami’s pieces you can truly value the artist’s role as a cultural commentator with works offering a serious engagement on issues affecting Japan and the larger world today, from media culture to globalisation to the threats of nuclear power.

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Takashi Murakami 727, 1996 acrylic on canvas mounted on board

We took a journey through 3 decades of Murakami’s art from his earliest mature work right through to present day. It was compelling to see the evolution in his designs. We were particularly taken by the 1990s distinctive, anime-influenced style known as Superflat with signature animated flowers. On your visit, keep an eye out for the iconic character Mr. DOB, a self-portrait, who features in some of the works.

Along with Nihonga-style paintings, we were met with huge menacing demon-like sculptures, cartoonish with flared nostrils, who took an ominous presence in the gallery.

Takashi Murakami Embodiment of “Um”, 2014 FRP, stainless steel, zelkova wood, and acrylic

Takashi Murakami Embodiment of “A”, 2014 FRP, stainless steel, zelkova wood, and acrylic

Takashi Murakami’s dedication to exquisite craftsmanship and fun pop aesthetics made for a unique, dynamic showcase. It was a real pleasure to get an insight into the imagination of this influential and visionary artist.

The exhibition closes May 6th so make sure to get yourself down to the gallery. You don’t want to miss out on this vibrant frenzy of colour, a little escapism is good for the soul!

About Takashi Murakami

Takashi Murakami was born in 1962 in Tokyo, Japan. He studied at Tokyo University of the Arts, Japan, where he received his BFA in 1986, his MFA in 1988, and his Ph.D. in 1993. He is the founder of the art production and management company Kaikai Kiki, which evolved from its predecessor, the Hiropon Factory founded in 1996. 

Murakami is well known for his high-profile projects with brands such as Louis Vuitton, VANS, shu uemura, Issey Miyake, Lucien Pellat-Finet, Roppongi Hills and ComplexCon, as well as collaborations with musicians such as Kanye West and Pharrell Williams.

 

Images courtesy of Vancouver Art Gallery.

http://www.vanartgallery.bc.ca/