women in white ad red sparkly outfits and a man wearing a white suit with another in a black jacket and white t shirt

K11, the multidisciplinary art, culture, retail, fashion and design organisation created by Hong Kong mover and shaker Adrian Cheng, is staging a show in the city celebrating 200 years of couture, together with the V&A.

It’s an auspicious occasion: Cheng has just been given the responsibility to reestablish the territory’s reputation as an international cultural hub, after three years of isolation caused by COVID. During that time, the cultural and touristic pendulum has swung towards Seoul, with the opening of Frieze Seoul, Singapore, which has seen much incoming financial and cultural capital, and Bangkok. It’s a big ask, but if there’s anyone who can do it, it is Cheng, scion of one of Hong Kong’s biggest dynasties and also a cultural statesman and innovator with a visionary understanding of east, west and the future.

Meanwhile, The Love Of Couture: Artisanship In Fashion Beyond Time curated in collaboration with the V&A and production designer, William Chang Suk Ping, aims to to bring together Western European traditions with eastern innovation, highlighting the extraordinary creativity, history and craftsmanship of couture.

The opening of the exhibition was celebrated at K11 Night with some of the most influential people in Asia, particularly from the fashion industry.

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a man in a white shirt lifting his glass at a dinner
two women with their arms arund their waist and one is wearing diamond ear muffs
people standing for a photo at a party
two men and a woman at a dinner

K11 collaborated with with the V&A, assembling a team of revered industry veterans and emerging fashion designers, who, within the exhibition, explore the evolution of fashion across time and space and celebrate the next generation of designers.

Read more: Adrian Cheng On Brands To Watch In 2023

Cheng says, “Fashion throughout history is reflective of how traditions, craftsmanship, creativity and societies continue to evolve. I am thrilled to present this exhibition in collaboration with the V&A and work with our brilliant designers who have all in their own individual way, reinvented and modernised history with their unique perspective and talent. This collaboration truly reflects my mission to create a deeper cultural exchange between east and west by providing a platform for next generation talent.”

The Love of Couture: Artisanship in Fashion Beyond Time Exhibition is on until Sunday 29th January at the K11 Art & Cultural Centre

Find out more: www.k11experience.com/love-of-couture

Reading time: 5 min
Painting of a group of young women in a bedroom setting
Abstract graphic style painting featuring red vibrant background

‘Dead End’ (2018), Loie Hollowell

Frank Cohen is one of the UK’s most renowned art collectors. Since selling his DIY business in 1997, he has built up a collection of more than 2,000 artworks by classic and contemporary artists. Here, he tells us how he caught the collecting bug, and which destinations are the most interesting for art right now.

Portrait photograph of the profile of a man on the phone

Frank Cohen. Image by Jonathan Straight

1. How did you first get into collecting?

As young as 7 years old I started to collect cigarette packets. In those days there were not so many brands and the cigarette packets had wonderful graphic designs on them. I asked all my aunts and uncles and my mothers friends to save the packets when they had smoked the cigarettes as everyone smoked in those days. 68 years ago it was fashionable and I kept them in mint condition always.

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When I was about 14 years of age I started collecting coins. One day when I went to a cinema in Manchester the cashier gave me a Victorian penny in my change. I had never seen one before so I took it to a numismatist, which was next to the cinema and he gave me half a crown for it! I collected coins for nearly 20 years and had one of the biggest collections of pattern coins in England.

Pattern coins are coins that were presented to the Royal Mint to be picked to go into circulation. I collected the ones that were never put into circulation, making them very rare. There were only about 10 minted of each, one always went to the Victoria & Albert Museum for their collection and the Queen gets one.

Painting of a shipping dock by L.S. Lowry

‘Glasgow Docks’ (1947), L.S. Lowry

2. Do you have an all time favourite artist?

I have all time favourite artists during different times in my collection. When I started collecting there was no contemporary art scene, so I collected Modern British art but if I could have afforded to buy anything I would have bought Picasso or Monet.

When I first started buying I bought Edward Burra, a fantastic English painter who only painted in water colours that looked like oils. I also bought L.S.Lowry, one of the greatest British painters of the last 100 years. In the late ‘70’s I bought Dubuffet and Miró from Leslie Waddington who let me pay for them over 2 or 3 years, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to collect them. Afterwards he offered me Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns and Mark Rothko, that were actually very cheap but I still couldn’t afford them. Today they are worth millions! You win some and lose some and I don’t regret anything or anything I bought.

3. If your collection could speak, what would it say about you?

My collections speak to me and my wife Cherryl, who has always been very important and supportive in my career. We’ve really collected together. I don’t care what anybody else thinks. It would say to me ‘I love you because you have made the right choice’.

Abstract painting featuring multiple figures in pink, red and blue

‘La Vie en Rose’ (1980), Jean Dubuffet

4. What’s the most interesting destination for art right now and why?

I suppose the Far East is an interesting destination right now for buyers but because the world is global there are some really good artists coming through from Brazil, Africa, Thailand and Romania. America, Germany and London, France and Italy were always at the forefront.

Read more: Contemporary ceramicist Edmund de Waal at The Frick Collection, NYC

5. Have you ever doubted your artistic judgment?

I have never doubted my artistic judgment because it’s me buying the artist. To put it another way I have bought some terrible things over the years and some great things – how do you judge it, how much money is it worth? I have done very well but I haven’t bought for that reason. I have artists that will never ever increase in value but I love them still.

Painting of a group of young women in a bedroom setting

‘Anonymous Now’ (2019), Chloe Wise

6. What’s your exhibition recommendation for this year?

My recommendations for this year mean nothing except to me, as no doubt people that read this article will naturally have a different view. Besides all the classic artists I have collected over the years, I have also bought young artists as well right now like Nathaniel Mary Quinn, Alex de Corte, Chloe Wise, William Monk and Loie Hollowell.

Read more of our 6 Questions interviews here

Reading time: 3 min
Colour photograph of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo holding a traditional figurine against a blue door
Colour photograph of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo holding a traditional figurine against a blue door

Frida Kahlo with Olmec figurine, 1939. Photograph Nickolas Muray. © Nickolas Muray Photo Archives

Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up is an examination of the creation of an artist – and a person, – rather than of the artworks themselves. Viewers enter through a corridor made to resemble Casa Azul in its brilliant colour (the ‘Blue House’ in Mexico City was where Kahlo grew up and lived with her husband, the muralist Diego Rivera) – a fitting invitation into the artist’s intimate world. On display are grainy family portraits scribbled with Kahlo’s own hand (one striking image of Kahlo dressed for her Catholic Confirmation reads Idiota! revealing the artist’s retrospective self-perception and changing views towards religion), video reels, Kahlo’s iconic costumes, medicines, lipstick, jewellery.

Mexican artist Frida Kahlo pictured in blue silk blouse standing against a maroon background

Frida Kahlo in blue satin blouse, 1939. Photograph Nickolas Muray © Nickolas Muray Photo Archives

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It’s haunting and atmospheric with speakers playing birdsong and ambient music as you drift through the different coloured rooms, and in some ways, it does feel like an intrusion. You can’t help, but feel an air of macabre voyeurism as you gaze at Kahlo’s illustrated body casts, bottles of pills, lipstick stain on a pocket photograph of Rivera… You might well question whether Kahlo would have wanted these things exposed at all?

And of course, we can’t know for sure, but Kahlo was, in every aspect of her life, a performer. She was, as the exhibition shows, an extension of her art.

Iconic Love Embrace Painting by Frida Kahlo

The Love Embrace of the Universe, the Earth (Mexico), Me, Diego, and Señor Xolotl, Frida Kahlo, 1949 (c) The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection of 20th Century Mexican Art and The Vergel Collection

It is deeply moving, and important to see the physical evidence of Kahlo’s suffering (at the age of 18, she was in a bus crash that left her with lifelong disability) and to place this alongside her iconic paintings that are steeped with complex symbolism and emotion. She was a proud and brave woman, and the exhibition is a beautiful celebration of all that she achieved and endured.

‘Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up’ is sponsored by Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, and runs until 4 November 2018 at the V&A. For more information visit vam.ac.uk/FridaKahlo

Millie Walton

Reading time: 1 min

Marco Lodola, Aladin

As Bowiemania takes over the world, our columnist tells how he is putting on a particularly original, global tribute to the multifaceted cultural icon. JEAN-DAVID MALAT

The current exhibition on David Bowie at London’s V&A, sponsored by Gucci, is an interactive hi-tech exhibition featuring more than 300 objects – handwritten lyrics, original costumes, fashion, photography, film, music videos, set designs, personal instruments and original album artworks, brought together by the V&A for the very first time in order to give visitors a more comprehensive insight into the life, career and mind of David Bowie. One would ask “why such mass enthusiasm for the artist?”, to which only one answer is possible: because he is a legend and his influence on contemporary creative society is exemplary and will be remembered.

Bowie has sold close to 136 million albums, and ranks among the ten best selling acts in UK pop history. In the BBC’s 2002 poll of the ‘100 Greatest Britons’, Bowie ranked 29 – that’s Britons of any type.

Bowie’s avant-garde artistic aura is what made him the legend he is, and art has played a large part in his life. Andy Warhol, probably the most famous artist of the pop art movement, was one of Bowie’s greatest inspirations. In 2003, in an interview with Performing Songwriter magazine about the song he wrote about Warhol, Bowie explained that he took the song to The Factory (Warhol’s studio and workshop) when he first visited America and that Andy Warhol hated it. After this unfortunate event, Bowie got to know Warhol and they became friends.

In 1996, David Bowie even played the part of Andy Warhol in Julian Schabel’s film ‘Basquiat.’ So, in parallel to the Victoria and Albert Museum exhibition, in 2013, the Opera Gallery is opening a visual artistic tribute exhibition on the legendary musician and icon.

Over twenty contemporary artists, from the US, the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe have been asked to create an artwork that pays homage to the singer, in their own style and technique.

The list of participating artists include Spanish portraitist Lita Cabellut – whose large-scale portraits fascinate the viewers with striking depth and colours; French stencil artist C215 who usually makes portraits of the poor 01 and homeless but eagerly accepted the challenge to depict the iconic singer for this exhibition.

British street artists Bob and Chaz from The London Police (TLP) collective are also taking part in the exhibition ‘The Many Faces of David Bowie.’ Famous for their lovable & iconic ‘Lads’ characters that have been seen on streets all over the world, they will bring a new dimension to the tribute display thanks to their unique back-to-basic black and white ink drawing technique. Other street artists from the British scene were selected to take part in the exhibition, such as Bristol-born Nick Walker, who emerged from the graffiti scene in the early 1980s and is now famous for his style and humour that have gained him worldwide recognition. Finally, Mac1 is a photo-realistic graffiti artist who came out of Birmingham’s innovative scene in the 1980s & 90s. He is a selftaught artist who deals mainly with acrylics, oils and inks. Inspired by pop and comic art as well as iconic figures from the past and present, Mac1 has been painting for 19 years, mainly with aerosol paint.

Nick Gentry presents a portrait in his very own recycling-upcycling technique that consists in painting with oil on a background made of floppy disks and cd-roms

And British visual artists Zoobs continues to incorporate different cultures and their representations into breath-taking iconic images that are often themed with death, love, pain, celebration and magic. His images, verging on the surreal, are haunting and sinister yet fashionably contemporary. There is no doubt that his take on a portrait of music and fashion icon Bowie, right up Zoobs’ street, will be strikingly edgy and sensual.

Eduardo Guelfendein, David Bowie

From the French scene, we are delighted to welcome Kan and Blo, from the ‘Da Mental Vaporz’ collective, as well as Hisham Echafaki and Jef Aerosol.

Initially from the south of France, Kan joined the Da Mental Vaporz crew in 2000. Blo, on his side, discovered graffiti at the age of 14, inspired by the urban landscape and hip-hop culture of his childhood. Following his first personal exhibition in 2003, Blo’s work evolved towards a more contemporary approach, yet remaining firmly attached to the codes of his graffiti background. Moving to Paris in 2005, he further developed his figurative style on a variety of mediums. Integrating various techniques and influences, the art of Blo earned him respect from the graffiti community as well as recognition in the contemporary art world, allowing him to display his work in prestigious venues such as Paris’ Grand Palais in 2008.

Jef Aerosol is a main proponent of the first generation of French street artists who started working on the streets in the early 1980s. A legend himself, he will take on the challenge of paying tribute to the British legend David Bowie in the recognisable stencil and collage style that he is famous for.

Mr Brainwash, Bowie Triptych

Mr Brainwash, Bowie Triptych

From the rest of the world, the exhibition will showcase works by the infamous Los Angeles based Mr Brainwash, moniker of Paris-born Thierry Guetta who became famous thanks to Banksy’s film ‘Exit Through The Gift Shop’ and who was introduced to the London public in the summer of 2012 when he took over the Old Sorting Office to present his large-scale installations, murals and stencils largely inspired by the iconic pop culture imagery.

Canada will be represented by painter André Monet, who blends collage of old newspapers and books, and paints portraits over this specially-made background. The traits of his characters are recreated with such precision that one might see a realistic photography arising from a distance. This new technique reveals the strengths and weaknesses of individuals appearing on the canvases.

In the mixed media category, the Italian sculptor Marco Lodola, who participated in the Venice Biennale several times in the past, will illuminate the exhibition with a neon and aluminium sculpture depicting David Bowie as Aladdin – the alter ego hero of his sixth album ‘Aladdin Sane’.

Joe Black, the London genius who describes himself as an ‘image-maker’ rather than an artist, features in the exhibition as well. Famous for his portraits made out of toy soldiers, badges, Lego and other small mundane objects, he will present a portrait of David Bowie entirely made with painted test tubes, proving once again that his ingenuity and resourcefulness are endless when it comes to depicting figures that inspire or have inspired him.

Finally, the most famous Scottish contemporary sculptor, the Royal Academician David Mach, who works with postcards, coat hangers, match-heads and pin-heads to create monumental installations, sculptures and collages, will create a new piece for the purpose of this exhibition, and to render homage to one of the most beloved singers and musicians of our times.

Jean-David Malat is director of the international Opera Gallery group; operagallery.com

David Bowie Is, V&A 23 March to 11 August 2013
The many faces of David Bowie, Opera Gallery London 20 June to 31 August 2013. After London the exhibtion will tour in Opera Gallery venues in Hong Kong, Singapore and Seoul.

Reading time: 6 min