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The spring-summer of Rinascente meets the art of Derek Gores

20 . 03 . 2018 by Riccardo Conti

American artist Derek Gores, the creator of Rinascente SS18 campaign, was the protagonist of an online/offline exhibition at Rinascente starting on March 13. A unique opportunity to explore the art of Derek Gores.

THE BEGINNING

The new Spring Summer 2108 campaign, the result of collaboration with the American artist Derek Gores and conceived as a true work of art, testifies Rinascente’s constant research in all sectors – fashion, design, food, jewelry, lifestyle and beauty – always explored with a curious, attentive and anticipatory look. An experience that Rinascente wanted to translate into images and make it even more intense by asking the American artist to realize the live performance of last March 13 for the public of the new flagship store recently opened in Rome in Via del Tritone.

Derek Gores was born in 1971 in New York and raised in Massachusetts. At the age of ten, he moved to Florida, in a social and cultural environment focused on boundless inland spaces and the beach culture, the perfect mix of the typical American dream. In 1993 he graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design and began his career as a graphic artist and Illustrator. It is that initial experience that gave Gores the extraordinary ability of control over graphical elements and composition that distinguish his most famous works of art.

Sensitive observer of contemporary imagination, Derek Gores has become in recent years one of the most attentive interpreters of the collage technique, through which he expresses an empathetic ideal of beauty, which anyone observing the 10 paintings exhibited at  Rinascente in Rome.

THE COLLAGE TECHNIQUE & THE SUCCESS

The large portraits, at first glance, catch the public attention for their strong communicative and immediate characteristics, in line with the European expressionist tradition that had in the 50s, in America, a second life at the hands of authors of Abstract Expressionism and later the advocates of the New Dada. By observing the exhibited paintings, as it always happens in the dialogue between the work of art and audience, you can sense that the multitude of signs that make up the picture is not the result of various strokes but an intense and perfectly realised collage made of myriads of fragments taken from magazines, photographs, newspapers and whatever was previously two-dimensional elsewhere, another image, another narrative, as the artist explains: “I have always created art using both drawing and painting, then I came across the collage technique, which allowed me not only to recycle the collected material, but also the story within, because each bit that I collect contains a piece of another story”.

If the first examples of collage, like Picasso and Braque Cubism papier collé, began as a “paper sculpture”, it is with the Dada movement and decisive figures like Kurt Schwitters and Hannah Höch that this language imposed itself and grew stronger in art history as an expressive means that is today essential for many authors.

Gores underlines: “I got inspired by surrealism, in particular the work of Max Ernst, but also Pop art influenced me, particularly the notion that advertising can become art”, continuing on the new campaign “it has been a pleasure working for a brand like Rinascente which believes in the value of art and gave me a chance to ‘play ‘ exploring those pictures with my technique. ”

 

There’s obviously a precise reason to understand this success, which has nothing to do with intellectual rumination, but that resides in the direct experience of each artist as a witness of his time and environment. Our visual world, since technical reproduction and media explosion, is a scenario intimately consisting of small fragments, image reproductions, simulacra, whose original models are now extinct or impossible to track down.

The art of Gores mostly depicts faces from the glamorous world of fashion, but also animals and other subjects thoughtfully built by recycling paper waste from the most diverse sources, that the artist collects through a long research and archiving process. A physical experience, which then meets another dimension, digital photography: Gores carries on a photo shoot with his subjects and models and then he deconstruct the work thanks to an image processing software, in the various shades that will be displayed on the canvas. Colours that are not conveyed, as we said before, by traditional painting materials, but already present in glossy magazines, maps, song lyrics, newspaper headlines and so on.
This same process was applied by Gores to achieve the new Rinascente Spring-Summer campaign, starting this time from the glamourous shots of photographer Stella Consonni, a profound connoisseur of fashion imagery, who collaborated with the artist in the making of this seductive visual narrative: “I think it was Christmas Eve when I received Stella’s photos and I was immediately impressed: her shots tell real life moments, they communicate joy, pleasure, beauty and elegance. She gave me exactly what I needed to accomplish my works that arise from those images with their beautiful contrasts, gestures and their perfect poses”.

”I began to appreciate the randomness that surprises me every time”

In the Rinascente campaign, as well as in previous works, a strong, direct, imminent image stands out, reflecting the aesthetics of the most sophisticated fashion advertising images, combining them with the immediacy of the billions of digital files created by each one of us, by taking daily various selfies and portraits. However, the rapid and “given” time is supported by a hidden and dilated one: the one created with patience and  method by the artist, which leaves a component of randomness (some pieces of paper have torn, irregular edges, showing their material origin) to the unintentional dynamic of denotations caused by the free and completely unpredictable juxtaposition of various recombined pieces. “I love the chaotic character of collage. Initially, I was extremely accurate in my technique, but I began to appreciate the randomness that surprises me every time and gives the image a more open narrative “, says Gores, commenting on the details of his last works.

Gores technique always oscillates between opposites, and it is precisely in this apparent contradictory nature that lies his actuality. Google Images is an infinite resource for a visual artist today (and probably for Gores), but it is in the quality of research and personal choice that lies the true professionalism and artistic intuition of the author; by establishing and giving new identity (like faces, for example) to something done by others for other purposes and then laid in the miscellany of these digital junk images.

THE ART OF DEREK GORES

It is important to point out another important aspect for understanding the art of Gores: observing his works closely as well as from a distance, it is easy to perceive the positivity and share their emotional value. The artist is interested in setting the sight of a single moment in time, the beauty of a face or shape, although this is the result of a tidy disorder, giving his paintings that life force that is the final and complete expression of a slow transformation toward the realization of a harmonious and visually satisfying shape. It is not by chance that Gores returned to portray in his collage the image of a colourful butterfly coming out of the cocoon as a lightweight colourful figure.

The art of Derek Gores is a hymn to life, personal affirmation that not surprisingly seduced the taste of many famous musicians and brands with which the artist worked passionately in recent years. From Madonna to Lenny Kravitz, U2, Kings of Leon and then fashion brands, the great American myths like Harley Davidson and many other entertainment industry companies who entrusted the artist with the interpretation of their identity: this was also the case of the Spring-Summer 2018 campaign created by Gores for Rinascente, perfectly incarnating the seasonal spirit with freshness and vitality.

With unbridled and amused imagination, Gores create works of art starting from happy waste, reanimated by the harmony and love in a strong ideal tension. The pleasantness of his practice makes you forget about the alienation of consumer society, exposing instead the most creative and contemporary side of it, that finds a perfect synthesis in the adventure proposed by the sophisticated visual storytelling, appreciable in the exhibition that the public visited in the new Rinascente flagship store in via del Tritone in Rome.

Riccardo Conti
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