Château Mouton Rothschild vineyard in autumn with golden leaves

Château Mouton-Rothschild vineyards in autumn Image: Mathieu Anglada Saison d’Or

We all know that collectors of fine art are liable to collectors of great wine: how better to appreciate a Joan Miró painting or Takashi Murakami installation than over a glass of one of the world’s finest wines?
German artist Gerhard Richter creates artwork for Château Mouton Rothschild

Gerhard Richter. Image: Studio Gerhard Richter, 2017

Château Mouton Rothschild, one of the great estates of Bordeaux, takes the connection further, commissioning a different leading world artist to design its label for its top wine every year. To collect bottles of Mouton from the past sixty years is to be immersed in original creations from the likes of Miró, Pablo Picasso, Jeff Koons, Francis Bacon, David Hockney, Lucian Freud, Keith Haring, Wassily Kandinsky – the list is a who’s who of the world’s great artists.

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So it’s no surprise that the latest, 2015, vintage has been announced to be sporting a label by the great German expressionist Gerhard Richter – indeed, one could wonder what took the collaboration so long. Richter’s other-worldly ability to reinvent himself, to pioneer new genres, and to blend elements of the social commentary so prevalent in contemporary creative culture with the purism of fine art, makes him the most collectible living artist. His works sell for tens of millions – a development which he apparently scorns.

Gerhard Richter's artistic label for Château Mouton Rothschild

Gerhard Richter’s label for the 2015 vintage

The work he created for his label, Flux, is stunning, alive, compelling, angry and colourful. The technique he uses involves spreading enamel paint on a plate of plexiglass on which he then presses and moves another glass plate to generate a swirling composition of colours. Richter then photographs the still fluctuating colours when he considers their composition to be momentarily harmonious.

It is appropriate that Richter, who turns 86 next year and who spends his summers at the other-worldly Waldhaus Sils in Switzerland’s high mountains, has been paired with 2015, one of the greatest vintages of recent times. Like the 2015 ‘grand vin’, he is an artist whose works will stand the test of decades – and even centuries.


Reading time: 1 min
London based artist Sam Winston created an installation of art and poetry whilst working in total darkness
pencil eye drawn in the darkness by artist sam winston

Artist Sam Winston spent 7 days and 7 nights living and creating art in a darkroom

Darkness heightens our senses, challenges our perceptions and opens up new creative visions, according to London based visual artist Sam Winston. For this month’s poetry muse, Rhiannon Williams learns about the power of the dark for artists and poets alike.

Sam Winston spent 7 days and 7 nights living and creating in a darkroom. Out of this absolute darkness emerged some extraordinary art, and an even more extraordinary installation: ‘Darkness Visible’ at the National Poetry Library at the Southbank Centre in London displays art and poetry that has been created in the dark. It brings to light both the privilege and drawbacks of physical sight, while simultaneously leading you to question what ‘sight’ really is.

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The title of the installation, ‘Darkness Visible’, is a phrase from John Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost‘, the epic poem which Milton wrote whilst he was blind by dictating his verse. The title is apt, as the dichotomy of light/dark is overturned in the paradoxical idea of a darkness you can see. Living temporarily in darkness, Sam Winston was able to explore the boundaries of experience and his body in new ways, as the systems and orders that we impose upon the day and regulate ourselves by were made redundant by the dark. Time, for example, without differentiation between night and day becomes an endless mass. According to Sam it is this ‘walking along the shoreline’ of different boundaries and pushing the threshold of what we can experience which shapes his art.

London based artist Sam Winston created an installation of art and poetry whilst working in total darkness

Sam Winston, ‘Darkness Visible’ 2017

The idea took form after a series of studio experimentations and playing about with misleading ideas about darkness as ignorance, as lack. Instead Sam argues that darkness can and should be viewed in a new way: as a creative resource. As someone who is dyslexic, the way Sam sees words is different, which is reflected in the style of his artwork; a lot of the pieces take the form of intricate text webs, the words forming enormous shapes and shadows, hurricanes across a blank page. In this way, Sam attempts to change at a structural level the discourse that surrounds darkness and dyslexia, suggesting that sensory perceptions not involving sight and light should be explored more thoroughly.

Read next: Leading art dealer Marc Glimcher of Pace Gallery on the value of public art

Subsequently, Sam commissioned ‘darkness residencies’ from leading young poets in London including Emily Berry, George Szirtes and Kayo Chingonyi who all spent time in a darkroom and wrote about it afterwards – their work is currently on show as a part of the exhibition at the Poetry Library. ‘The idea of total darkness is not the same as total darkness. The idea of light is not the same as light’, George Szirtes wrote, linking to the idea that terms of knowledge such as enlightenment and illumination all conjure up imagery of light and vision, whereas terms of darkness suggest oblivion and ignorance. What Winston has created is a poetic inversion, revolutionary in the sense that it performs a full circle on what our notions of darkness-as-limitation are. In this installation darkness is, in a way, art itself.

portrait of poet Kayo Chingonyi creating poetry in the dark

Poet Kayo Chingonyi on a ‘darkness residency’. Image: Andy Sewell

‘Darkness Visible’ runs until 25 March 2018 at the National Poetry Library at the Southbank Centre; Sam Winston, Emily Berry, George Szirtes and Kayo Chingonyi will be in conversation with other multimedia artists on 11 January 2018 at the Whitechapel Gallery.

Reading time: 3 min
Exterior view of the contemporary architecture of Ritz Carlton Almaty
Luxury hotel Ritz Carlton Almaty against sunset and snow backdrop

The Ritz-Carlton Almaty has a spectacular panorama of the Tien Shan mountains

Why should I go now?

It’s mid-winter in Kazakhstan, a spectacular time to see the biggest and most historic city in this huge and dynamic former Soviet republic straddling Siberia and the Tien Shan mountains – effectively the northernmost edge of the Himalayas.

What’s the lowdown?

Arrive at night, like we did, and you are ushered effortlessly to your room by the staff – they behave as welcomingly as Ritz Carlton staff anywhere in the world, but if it’s a first visit to the country, the Kazakhs looks impossibly exotic, beautifully coiffed, tall, slim, a striking blend of Slavic and Asiatic.

In the morning, draw the curtains expecting to see just another big Asian city, and you are blown backwards by the view from the picture windows in the bedroom. Before you stretch a vast array of peaks, rising to more than 5000m – higher than the Alps, deep frozen in snow, dwarfing any view from Milan, Geneva or Munich. Right in front of the hotel is an Olympic-style ski jump.

vista restaurant with views of the snow covered mountains at Ritz Carlton Almaty in winter

Dinner with a view at the VISTA restaurant

You could spend all your time in the Ritz and the uber-luxe Esentai Mall that adjoins it; the lobby, bar and restaurants are all on the 28th floor, with an excellent sushi bar. The aptly-named VISTA hosts a Sunday jazz brunch, with live band, straight out of the Upper West Side: we dined here with old friends, a sad and poignant occasion for very private reasons. The food was pure Manhattan bar & grill, with a little Osteria thrown in (particularly in the wine list, which was a heaven for Italophiles).

It would be a shame, though, not to go and explore Almaty: we enjoyed a night time trudge through deep snow to a couple of luxury fashion boutiques, including gorgeous MaxMara and Armani stores, with staff and clientele seemingly lifted directly from the Via Montenapoleone. And in contrast, in winter, a short drive takes you to the high-altitude ski resort of Shymbulak; skiing at nearly 4000m on the northernmost edge of the Himalayas is one of the world’s more spectacular experiences, and the snow is usually cold and dry (and the runs well groomed, and quite easy).

Getting Horizontal

There’s a beautiful pool and a Six Senses spa to revive yourself ahead of your next round of business conversations. Kazakhstan is a country on the go, and we found its leaders very open to inspiring conversations about developing its future. As for the bedroom, think Ritz modern luxury, with that matchless view thrown in.

An executive suite at the Ritz Carlton Almaty with winter views of the snowy mountain range

An executive suite with a breathtaking view to the south


This has to be the best luxury spot between Moscow and Beijing. If we had to be critical, we’d say we’re mystified as to why Kazakhstan doesn’t do a better job of selling itself. President Nazarbayev – call on LUX if you need inspiration, because your country is too much of a secret.

Rates: From 90 000 kzt ( approx. £200 / $300 /€250)

Darius Sanai


Reading time: 2 min
Transcending Boundaries, an exhibition of works by teamLab, installation view of Impermanent Life at Pace Gallery
Dark Waves an art work by collective temLab

‘Dark Waves’ by teamLab, the Japanese interdisciplinary group that brings art, technology and nature together, at their 2017 Pace London exhibition Transcending Boundaries

Pace Gallery, under the leadership of owner Marc Glimcher, is one of the leading forces on the global contemporary art scene. With his visionary plans for spectacular multi-media shows, he is taking art into the future. But he is also stepping in to curate art in public areas in parts of America where local government funds are low, a role where the private sector’s responsibility will only expand, he tells Darius Sanai in an exclusive interview

LUX: With current developments in public art, it is felt that private initiatives and galleries, such as yours, are taking on the role of public services.
Marc Glimcher: Absolutely. There is a level of ambition that people have and this is true I think in all sectors. For example, when comparing the art and tech world: academic ambitions have grown so large that they have become private, corporate ambitions. That is quite a well-documented thing now. We see Silicon Valley companies and so forth taking on this role of being consumers of social good as well as entrepreneurs.

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In the art world I think we are seeing the same thing where developers see that a public mission has melded with their commercial vision and purpose. And without that public good the commercial success is not enough, it’s not guaranteed and it’s not balanced, so we find ourselves taking on that role.

Marc Glimcher president of Pace Gallery with the artist Kevin Francis Gray

Marc Glimcher (right) with the artist Kevin Francis Gray at the opening of his show at Pace New York in 2017

LUX: Is there a danger that these become one man or one group’s vision of what public art should be? And is that good or bad?
MG: Well, it always has been. This isn’t purely true but great individual visions have guided great cultural achievements. Committees are not famous for having inspired or patronised or enabled great cultural moments to happen. It is something done with passion by someone who kind of parallels the artists. When a municipal committee get together to decide what the art is going to be on some public site, you don’t get the best result. When someone in that group has a real vision, pushing it as if it were their private vision, that is when amazing things happen. I don’t think there is any history of somebody’s private vision hurting the quality of cultural intervention.

LUX: Can you tell us more about your initiatives. What’s forthcoming, how will it work and how will communities be involved?
MG: It’s very complex. The gallery system was set up to represent an artist and the artist makes their work and the gallery shows it and sells it. The process for these public commissions is much more akin to an architectural process. What do we have coming up? We’ve got 10 projects around the world right now where we are making proposals, the first one being ‘The Illuminated River’. And we have projects in New York and Massachusetts, Australia, London, and China where there are new cities being built every day. I will say that London seems to be at the centre; it’s a fertile place to have those conservations about this idea. That’s where we found Mark Davy, founder of Futurecity, who we are in collaboration with for Future\Pace. We’ve set up a group who can function using the economic model of the architectural world to address an arts project; it’s a very different approach. We are going out to developers and municipals. We are helping to draft a cultural agenda and will be working with our artists and others who are not necessarily gallery artists but who work on a public scale and acting as the planning group to get this job done.

Transcending Boundaries, an exhibition of works by teamLab, installation view of Impermanent Life at Pace Gallery

‘Impermanent Life’ by teamLab in Transcending Boundaries at Pace Gallery

LUX: And is this driven by your desire that more people should be able to see and experience art?
MG: Yes. Our natural driver is the artist and we see among the artists a desire to bring the message out into the world. We take our cue from them so it’s a natural evolution for us to feel excited when we get a chance to have Leo Villareal light all the bridges crossing the River Thames. It’s the same with artist estates. We recently took on the estate of the American sculptor Tony Smith. He is one of the greatest artists of the 20th century and one of the most important sculptors aware of public engagement and their experience of space. My father drilled it into my head that this is our family’s contribution to help these artists get their message out and extend human perception. When we got 200,000 people to our teamLab exhibition in Menlo Park, California, it was pretty thrilling.

LUX: What’s it like to take over your father’s business. Is it just a job or something else?
MG: It’s a unique challenge. You have to survive the first 20 years without killing your father and struggling with self-definition. People may deny it but every second-generation person with any kind of ambition has to come to peace with the fact their father created something from scratch, and you’re never going to be that person. So who are you going to be? And what are you going to do? You know you’ve made it when you won’t let your father leave instead of trying to kick him out.

LUX: And I guess your relationships with artists are at the heart of what you do and how you define your relationship with the business?
MG: Absolutely. That’s what we experienced growing up, being surrounded by the artists. It’s a very complex business. There are many different agencies involved – there are the museums, the collectors and the writers. You need to remember what your core is in a complex business and ours is the representation of the artists. If you maintain that there is a way to cross from one generation to the next and to create a real institution.

LUX: What thrills you, what makes you come alive?
MG: For me it’s walking into the artist’s studio and seeing their breakthrough, that spectacular invention that they have created, and knowing you can transmit that out into the world. I will get a call from Tara Donovan, who will have been struggling on a new body of work for a year, and she will say “I’ve got it”. And you can hear in her voice that something has happened. Some transformation took place. And as an art dealer you get in the car and you’re the second person to connect to that creative moment. Or you can get on a plane because Adrian Ghenie called and you arrive in Berlin, go into his really dirty, really dark studio, go around the corner and there is this work that has just been dredged out of the great history of painting. Then everything you do is about bringing it out of the gallery and into the world, to the museums, to the lectures and so on. If that makes you come alive then you are an art dealer.

Read next: Moroccan artist Ghizlan El Glaoui’s unique visions of beauty

LUX: You studied sciences. Does that bring you a different perspective to others in your business?
MG: It might. I definitely think that it has worked well for me. The art gallery is very concerned with historical process, not just the individual process of one individual artist. The rigorous training and analysis that one gets in immunology or biochemistry translates well into trying to understand how the broad sweep of culture works and how artists work.

A display of artworks by artist Mario Merz at Pace Gallery in London

A London showing of works by Italian artist Mario Merz, organised by Pace Gallery in collaboration with the late artist’s foundation

LUX: And in terms of artists, there must be more competition than ever to find and represent the best artists? Or is that irrelevant because more people are becoming artists?
MG: No. It is very relevant. There is more competition and it is shaping the art world. The galleries are growing. In a market place when the demand is going up at the same time as the competition, you tend to create more consolidated, larger companies to deal with all the various competitive issues. It becomes very expensive to be an art gallery so it’s harder for mid-level galleries. Although, the population of artists is so diverse that there are still artists for every kind of gallery. It’s hard to imagine big galleries replacing the smaller galleries because small galleries are absolutely essential for emerging artists. And there are a lot of artists who don’t want anything to do with the big galleries. In 1975, when you had an artist popular in New York City it meant that if you wanted to keep working with them you had to do a full colour catalogue instead of black and white. Now that same artist, or a comparable artist, is popular in New York, Korea, Europe, China, South America and there are multiple museums competing for shows. There are awards and biannuals and art fairs. It requires an enormous amount. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not about flying artists around in private jets and having expensive parties. It’s about funding the production of work, shipping it all over the world, organising exhibitions, lectures and symposiums and about supporting the museums who have commissioned your artist. We have 17 registrars in charge of handling and moving the art and making sure it gets where it’s supposed to be in perfect condition. That is twice the size of our PR staff, which is big, too.

LUX: Would collectors of these popular artists in 1970s New York have been in the artistic, cultural, media community themselves? And how has that demographic changed since then?
MG: No, that’s a myth. Art patrons haven’t been other artists or writers, although they have always collected artists when they were starting out because they were the ones who knew about them but they always get priced out. In the 70s the collectors were the real estate developers because they were the most entrepreneurial, upwardly mobile group of wealthy people in America, Japan and around the world. They were priced out by an emerging financial class of hedge-fund people who were collecting more aggressively, and they in turn might be displaced by technology people.

artwork by Japanese interdisciplinary art collective teamLab

teamLab’s digital work ‘Impermanent Life’ (2017) visualises the cycle of life constantly changing

LUX: How do you view the debate about the fragmentation of art, that there are no movements in art and no significant artists anymore?
MG: I view it as something that people always say about their time. People are very sceptical, very hard on their own moment in history. We’ve never heard anyone say now is a golden age of great art. Golden ages are always in the past. In the day when those southern California light and space artists were coming out, believe me, people said, “Oh god, this is so desperate, nobody knows how to make great art, they’ve forgotten”. Now we have special effects and digital artists. Great art is always made, it just takes a while to be recognised as such.

Read next: Olympic high jumper and Richard Mille’s newest partner Mutaz Essa Barshim on the importance of timing

LUX: What are the most interesting things going on at the moment at Pace?
MG: We have our art and technology and public art strategy that we have been working on for the last five years and it’s all bearing fruit at this point. More importantly than that, it seems like it is playing a significant role in the global cultural dialogue. That’s always the place we want to be – making significant dialogues. Both art and technology and the way that those groups making art in this way have a certain capacity to work in public spaces. But the nature of the art making also creates natural limits to what the artists can do. There were 20 requests for sky spaces from James Turrell for every one that could be done. New cities get built around the world with new large-scale developments and these groups want to engage in art, they don’t want to engage just with design. So it’s a call to the artists to find a way to work on a bigger scale. It’s driving the creation of art collectives along with the fact that this is a very collaborative age. We are seeing amazing possibilities arise.

LUX: Which artists are really exciting you now?
MG: We are very excited about Tony Smith because people haven’t recognised his greatness. There is a lot of great painting that is being done right now by the likes of Adrian Ghenie and Nigel Cooke. Tara Donovan, who is kind of a post-minimalist artist, her show sold out in a day! We are about to have a Robert Mangold show and Bob, who is 77, hasn’t had a show in five years. Recently we’ve had Richard Pousette-Dart, Kenneth Noland and Louise Nevelson, great artists from the 60s and 70s who are now being rediscovered. We are excited about a lot of different things.

LUX: Do you think art has replaced literature and music as the primary mode of cultural information?
MG: I wouldn’t count out music or literature. The most ancient art form is music; it pre-dates language. Historically, I think visual art sits somewhere between music and literature but it’s having its moment right now. We are in a visual society.

Reading time: 11 min
Berber woman by Moroccan artist Ghizlan El Glaoui
mosaic style portrait of a Berber woman by Ghizlan El Glaoui

Portrait of a Berber woman by Ghizlan El Glaoui

Moroccan artist Ghizlan El Glaoui, daughter of renowned painter Hassan El Glaoui and granddaughter of Thami El Glaoui, the last Pasha of Marrakech, is fascinated with faces and finding beauty in the world. Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai speaks to the artist about her artistic childhood, African art and her portrait wish-list.
Morroccan artist Ghizlan El Glaoui painting in her studio

Ghizlan El Glaoui at work in the studio

Darius Sanai: How long have you been living and working in London?
Ghizlan El Glaoui: It’s been 21 years now. I studied and married in Paris and then decided to move to England due to a job offer for my husband. I’ve been here ever since – I like London and was so happy to move away from France. I am half French, but lived in Morocco for most of my life so the French was still foreign to me – even though I had a French mother. When I was in Paris, I suddenly realised that my French side of my personality was not as developed as I thought. I always felt like a foreigner to the Parisians. By experiencing Paris, I always loved people from the South and that the people from the North were very different, so I remained big friends with the South of France. But when I moved to London, I just thought, this is it.

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DS: You come from a great artistic heritage and you are both an artist and a collector, how has that developed? When did you start doing what and how did it all start?
GEG: I had an artistic father and grandfather. I was always surrounded by their art, influences and admiration of arts. I grew up with these passions. I became my father’s muse, posing for his portraits. My father was my first tutor and he knew of such amazing artists himself that I had 4-5 tutors in the room while watching him paint. You have to watch a lot when you’re posing there is nothing else to do, you can’t move, so I observed the way he was looking at me and all the other things around it as well. I have kept this passion of portraiture and so I started to have this need to express myself through artistic means. I was a pianist as well so I suppose it was evident that I had this ability with arts in general. This is why I wanted to study art in general in Paris. The academy I went to taught you art, but also prepared you for finding a job afterwards. Half of it was very intense art courses and the other half was learning how to make a magazine, learning about typography.

DS: When you were a student, did you think you would become an artist or was it just a passion?
GEG: It’s difficult to say. I was never really good at doing what I was asked to do, but what is interesting is that the project we had to do in our last year was about mosaic. We had to take an image and reproduce it on a much bigger scale. We had to cut the pain ourselves, into squares, and had to recreate that mosaic with different tones. I remember very well that I chose an incredibly good-looking model that was posing at the time for all the Armani perfume campaigns. His face was absolutely gorgeous! Since then I have readapted this technique to my own, now I don’t cut the squares, I paint them directly onto the linen.

I painted more after having kids, when I had the time to develop my artistic career. It has been a passion and a hobby for many years and only when my girls started going to school did I have the time to further develop the presence of my art in London, which I hadn’t done before. I was very present in St Tropez and other places where my name perhaps had more meaning. After Morocco, Madrid and other places, I thought London would be a good place. At the time, London was very British orientated in terms of art, focussing on British artists. As a foreigner, it was quite a trick to get into the English art world, so I didn’t want to try until I had proven myself in other places before. More recently, my sister opened the 154 African Art fair which has been hugely successful, so there clearly is international demand for top African artists.

DS: African art is a very broad definition, is that how you define yourself?
GEG: Not at all. I paint beauty, that’s how I define it. On the subject of African art, the King of Morocco is trying his best to create an Africa where Morocco is included. I think Morocco is very different to other places in Africa. It has so much history and culture. I think it’s a very special place and should remain as such. Everybody wants to collect African art now, my sister started it, and at the time nobody wanted to go to her first show. Now, the trend is so big that even Sotheby’s and Christie’s are telling you about their African collections that apparently they have had for years, but never showed. Suddenly they are all becoming experts! Obviously, it is incredibly important to show art from African artists, as it should be seen by everyone around the world.

Portrait of a woman by Moroccan artist Ghizlan El Glaoui

Blue Blossom by Ghizlan El Glaoui

DS: Do you define yourself as Moroccan or a school of Moroccan art? Is that more accurate?
GEG: I would say, my father always had a fight with the school of Moroccan art, because they never gave him the credit of Moroccan art. They always got jealous, as he was in Paris and had incredible links and connections with artists, even before he was 30. They never considered him as an official part of the Moroccan trend of artists. They put him aside and excluded him in exhibitions in the past. They were very worried that my father has a special position. I do think he deserved it and he did have it. He’s been so successful and has been so incredibly grateful to his country – making it shine all over the world – he’s done that through his talent. To watch him and his career at this stage, I can only be very proud.

Darius Sanai: Would you put yourself in the same category?
Ghizlan El Glaoui: I cannot. I have his art on my walls! I think the big force of my father was that he was so modest. He never believed a painting was finished and he never wanted to sell his art – he was very shy of being in the limelight.

DS: How do you artistic styles compare?
GEG: I took all the positive things that I had learned from my dad and my method has been the same since art school. I paint the same square method and my technique, which is from art school onwards, is to paint on the other side of the canvas, because I don’t like white – it does not inspire me. This comes from my dad as well, his teacher would always prepare the back of the painting before she decided what she was going to paint on it. She would use all the old tubes and palettes to create the next painting, so she wouldn’t waste any paint – everything would be used. We have a cat at the house, which everybody loved. The teacher created a grey background and then she decided to put that cat on it, it looked so incredible! It stayed with me that you have to prepare your background before you paint it.

Read next: Richard Mille’s latest brand ambassador, Olympic athlete Mutaz Essa Barshim on the importance of timing

Many years later, I discovered the light for the background of my paintings – day light, night light, because I wanted my paintings to show different faces. I then realised I could put lights behind it and achieve as many faces as I wanted – not just day and night by this incredible engineering of light. I was also always really fascinated by mosaics in churches and how the light would come through the glasses. I think my artistic style represents who I am and where I come from, it stands for everything I like which I’ve melted together. My technique is based of all my inspirations, melted together and I’m always trying to represent beauty. I think there are so many horrors in the world that we now live in, so it is the artist’s job to bring joy and pleasure. I’m not an artist who destroys beauty – I’m not Picasso. There are so many perfections, to me, in the world. I need to make everything beautiful. This is what I do when I tackle a project. Right now I’m doing a series on Indians in America and make them shine again – giving them their moment, because we always forget how we built our new world; it was by destroying another race. I want them to shine again with their culture, their beautiful costumes, their attitudes, their pride – so many things I admire from this population.

Ghizlan El Glaoui berber woman portrait

Portrait of Berber woman by Ghizlan El Glaoui

DS:  Where do you take inspiration? Where do you get your ideas from?
GEG: That’s a very good question. I have waiting lists in my mind of people I plan to paint one day. Some days I think about the news and that will make someone move up in the list. Sometimes I look at my past work to maybe develop those ideas. I have a friend who works at Dior now, so I’d like to look at this vintage fashion dresses from Dior – that could be an interesting project to work on. My ideas come from lots of different things. Charlie Chaplin is on my list. I haven’t done many men yet. I’d also like to paint Winston Churchill with his cigar.

DS: You mention beauty, is this very important for your art?
GEG: Yes, I have a big sense of aesthetic beauty. My mother thought we were all muses of Botticelli and her passion of art, I think, influenced her children – we even looked like Botticelli models with the same type of hair. I think my interest is a combination of my mum’s aesthetic and my dad’s aesthetic. My need for beauty is from my childhood. There were also beautiful mosaics everywhere in our buildings, my mum had a big collection of furniture so I was lucky enough to always be surrounded by lovely things and I want to reproduce this beauty.

DS: And what are you most excited about creating for next year?
GEG: I would like to do a beautiful exhibition of Berber ladies from the south of my country, Morocco.

Reading time: 9 min
Richard Mille Ambassador Mutaz Essa Barshim wearing the new RM
Mutaz Essa Barshim, Qatari Silver Olympic Highjump Medalist

Mutaz Essa Barshim wearing the ultra light RM67-02

Ultra-luxe watchmaker Richard Mille combines artistry, technology, a nod to architecture, Kitty Harris speaks to their latest partner, Qatari Silver Olympic Highjump Medalist Mutaz Essa Barshim about time and the new RM67-02 Automatic watch.
New ultra light watch designed by Richard Mille for Mutaz Essa Barshim

The RM67-02

LUX: You hold the Qatari national record and Asian record for the best mark of 2.43m. How old were you when you started high jumping?
Mutaz Essa Barshim: I was around 10-11 years old when I started. I began in track and field because my father used to be an athlete. When I was young, he always took me to the stadium, so it was always important to me. But I started running, doing cross-country, long-distance, mid-distance and as I grew up, I stopped liking distance running. I didn’t enjoy just running and at the club, I saw the other kids doing jumps and trampolining. For me, naturally as a kid, it seemed much more fun. Back then, I wasn’t thinking at a professional level. I only wanted to not have to go home and do homework and do something fun instead. I spoke to my coach at the club and told him I wanted to join the jump group and he allowed me too. It later developed.

LUX: Why Richard Mille out of any of the people that you could have partnered with?
MEB: He is simply the best!

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LUX: How did you come to partner with Richard Mille?
MEB: The first time I met Richard was in the Rio Olympics after my competition. We talked and he is a really nice, friendly guy. He told me he loved the way I jump and he wanted me to join him in the family. I said, of course I’d be very happy to. We had been talking about the watch and he asked me if I jump with watches. I said no, because they’re too heavy. Richard said that he could make something very light for me. So I said, let’s do it! I know about Nadal’s RM27-03 Tourbillon watch and it is very light. He said he could do it even lighter than that and I was very impressed. Since then, we have been talking back and forth and sharing ideas.

LUX: Were you involved in the design process?
MEB: Initially, the main target was for me to jump with it – something that wouldn’t affect my jump. It wouldn’t be worth it if it was something heavy that disturbed my performance. Since we realised that he could make something lighter, we discussed design. We thought it could be something with maroon and white, to match my kit. I wanted something elegant and sexy – I didn’t want it to be thought of as a sport watch.

LUX: You said that the watch came out of a necessity for being light. Would they bring you designs that you would tweak, or were you given final products?
MEB: Firstly, we would get a prototype drawing. This would be computerised and three-dimensional. He would ask what I thought. I wanted to see a side angle picture, so I could see how thin the watch was. He said it was so thin that I won’t be able to feel it. When I saw the picture, I was really impressed. He would then show me the back and ask my preferences and how I wanted it to be engraved. What shall we write down? We would discuss the colours and how to change them. Of course, none of the mechanics is to do with me. It’s all his work and genius. I think asking him about the mechanics would be disrespectful, because I know he would make it the best. When it came to the final product, I really was impressed!

richard mille watch designed for olympic highjumper mutaz essa barshim

Side view of the RM67-02 designed for Mutaz Essa Barshim in maroon and white to match the athlete’s kit

LUX: There is a symbiosis and as you said, you needed something that didn’t affect you when you jumped. What are the commonalities between your practice and your watch?
MEB: Quality. It is the main objective. High jumpers don’t use any objects, they just have to use their bodies in the perfect way, otherwise you will injure yourself. Timing – a few seconds can make a difference between a perfect jump and a really bad jump. You could lose a medal. That’s what this watch is about – quality and timing. Ticking at the right moments. I want something sexy and elegant, with quality and timing.

LUX: By being in the Richard Mille family – you are amongst some of the best sportsmen and women. How does it feel?
MEB: It feels great. The one thing I really love about Richard and how he selects his athletes and ambassadors, is that everybody is so humble and down-to-earth. He is not only selecting people because of what they achieve in sport. He also looks at their social energy, what they value in society and how they interact with different people. I’ve met most of the guys and everybody is so nice. They are so inspiring and they are role models. I feel that is the type of character he wants. Once you’re in, you’re in – it is a family. You don’t want to bring someone in that will destroy this family. Everybody is highly professional, but at the same time they are very nice people. It is just a pleasure to be among them.

Read next: Zermatt’s most exclusive ski chalet

LUX: Timing is obviously crucial to your life. But what do you do in your free time?
Mutaz Essa Barshim: Get interviewed! I don’t have so much free time, since I only have one month off a year. In my free time, I like to stay home. I’m rarely home, as I’m always travelling. I really just want to be home with my mother and my friends, relaxing.

Olympic athlete and richard mille ambassador Mutaz Essa Barshim outside the Mount Street store in London

Outside the Richard Mille Mount St. boutique

LUX: What is the life of an Olympic athlete like? You work for eleven months a year. You work and you train.
MEB: You always travel and train, train, train. It is always about what is next. To answer that question, you need to be even more professional than before. It is very hard each time. Especially when there is so much expectation about who will win each time. There is always pressure you have to deal with. In order for a professional athlete to keep that, you need to limit yourself. You can’t go out all the time, because your body needs to recover. This means a lot of treatment and recovery time to make sure you avoid injuries. Since you travel a lot, nutrition and drinking a lot of water to not get dehydrated and tear muscles is also very important. It is hard and at the same time, you need to balance it with training. You must also relax your mind and ease up to be fresh mentally. You need to hang out with friends, and at the same time you have commitments to your sponsors. There are social responsibilities. The life of a professional is nice, but you don’t have much time to yourself.

LUX: What is next?
MEB: In March, we have the indoor World Championships in Birmingham. That is the biggest target for the Winter. For Summer, we have the Asian Games and the Diamond League, which is the world circuit. We have a couple of high class meets also in the Summer. The World Championship is the main goal at the moment.

Reading time: 6 min
Hotel of the month, luxury chalet in Zermatt, Switzerland
Matterhorn mountain at sunset in Zermatt, Switzerland

The Matterhorn, Zermatt. Image by Samuel Zeller

It has snowed already in the Alps. Time to book a week at Chalet Banja, our favourite property in Switzerland’s most spectacular resort, Zermatt.

Zermatt, the village in a deep valley beneath the iconic Matterhorn, remains LUX’s favourite Alpine wintersports resort. St Moritz might have swankier shops, Courchevel may have a more conveniently laid-out lift system, Cortina d’Ampezzo may have a flash of Venetian style and Chamonix may offer vertiginous heli-skiing; but Zermatt has something nowhere else can offer.

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That something is a combination of a few pieces of magic. Beside the view of the Matterhorn, itself worth the journey, the ski areas above the resort – Rothorn, Gornergrat and the Klein Matterhorn-Schwarzsee zone – have an unmatched panorama of the Pennine Alps, the highest peaks in the Alps, arranged around Zermatt in a vast horseshoe. In no other area in the Alps do you ascend to a perilous high point above 3000m, stepping out into a subzero gale and fear-inducing view back down, only to realise you are yourself dwarfed by a whole new wall of mountains, some higher than 4500m, and none of them accessible by the lift system. It’s a different dimension.

Hotel of the month, luxury chalet in Zermatt, Switzerland

Chalet Banja in the little hamlet of Winkelmatten

As well as the views, and the skiing, which varies from quite tricky to OMG rated (unless you cruise into Italy for the day, which is a bit of light relief), there are mountain restaurants like Chez Vrony, Findlerhof and Blatten (and dozens more besides), which create a kind of Michelin-starred cosiness on the slopes.

And then there’s the resort itself. Zermatt allows no cars, which gives it a pleasing tranquillity. For some, it has sprawled a little too much across the valley in recent years.

private pool at luxury chalet Banja in Zermatt, switzerland

Chalet Banja’s private pool

Which brings us to the jewel in Zermatt’s crown. Technically, Chalet Banja is located in Winkelmatten, a little hamlet on a grassy knoll immediately on the south (Matterhorn) side of the village. Winkelmatten has its own chapel, playground, shop, and a couple of restaurants. Banja is built beautifully into a river embankment, and it has an uninterrupted view across a pine forest and the Schwarzsee hill to the Matterhorn.

Read next: The New Museum’s most important exhibition to date

From the road side, it appears as a low bungalow with a roof carefully created with local stone; the engineering feat of its construction means it is actually a four-storey house with the largest private pool (and gym) on its lower floor, three bedrooms, and a fabulous modern-Valais style kitchen, dining room and living room at its heart. Every floor has stunning views over the Matterhorn, and extensive wraparound balconies, and the construction was a labour of love by a local doctor who works elsewhere in Switzerland, and his wife.

Interiors of Luxury chalet in Zermatt, Switzerland

The drawing room and library, which has a bijou selection of Alpine books

Five minutes walk from the Matterhorn lift, Banja has a glorious sense of place, and of Zen. You could sit on the balcony, gaze at the Matterhorn, sip local Cornalin wine all day, and not ski at all; or you could spend your days haring off piste down from Rote Nase and Schwarzsee and come home for a dinner that would be both traditional and modern. All around, those giant peaks would sleep in their subzero coats. It has snowed already in the Swiss Alps; time to book.

Darius Sanai

Reading time: 3 min
New Museum New York Gender Exhibition Installation View
Gender exhibition installation view at the New Museum in New York

“Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon,” 2017. Exhibition View: New Museum. Photo: Maris Hutchinson / EPW Studio

The New Museum is well known for its radical programme of exhibitions targeting issues of social representation, but “Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon” is arguably one of the most important to be housed by the space. Bringing together work from over forty intergenerational artists (including Josh Faught, Reina Gossett and Sasha Wortzel, Ellen Lesperance, Mickalene Thomas, and Candice Lin), across a variety of mediums and genres, including film, video, performance, painting, sculpture and photography, the exhibition contests the gender binary, exploring fluid and more inclusive expressions of identity by developing new vocabularies and imagery.

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Tschabalala Self artwork Mane for gender exhibition in New York

Tschabalala Self, Mane, 2016. Lewben Art Foundation Collection. Courtesy the artist; Pilar Corrias, London; T293, Naples and Rome; and Thierry Goldberg, New York. Special thanks to Pilar Corrias and T293

Yet these works are by no means mere utopian reconstructions, the artistic practices are plugged firmly into current gender discourses, recognising the complex intersections with race, class, sexuality, and disability. One of the most notable works includes a braided sculpture by Diamond Stingily that trails from the fourth floor down to the lobby, alluding to the racial dimensions of beauty conventions as well as to Medusa, whose gaze could turn men into stone. It’s a powerful reminder of art’s potency as, in the words of Schiller, our ‘second creatress’ of new worlds and perspectives.

Millie Walton

“Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon” runs until 21st January 2018 at the New Museum, New York

Reading time: 1 min