Famous object designer presents art of assembling with Vietnamese lacquer

November 28, 2022 - 10:00

HÀ NỘI — For the first time, Vietnamese people have a chance to see with their own eyes unique artworks by famous jewellery and object designer Gilles Jonemann that are on display at an exhibition in Hà Nội.

Jonemann, using lacquer objects by Vietnamese haute lacquer house Hanoia, has applied debris or redundant materials to the structure, creating 24 contemporary artworks which are on display at the New Look, New Lacquer – Gilles Jonemann for Hanoia.

Designer Gilles Jonemann has created a collection of 24 artworks for his exhibition 'New Look, New Lacque – Gilles Jonemann for Hanoia' in Hà Nội. — Photo courtesy of Hanoia

Talking about the special collaboration, the artist, who is also a member of the design team of Petit H by Hermes, said that an encounter with a Hanoia representative in 2017 gave him the idea about the exhibition.

“When I visited Hanoia stores, looking at their lacquer vases, and large bowls, I realised that all of them were crafted using traditional craft techniques but expressed a contemporary aesthetics," said the 78-year-old designer at a press preview in Hà Nội on Friday.

"Immediately, I thought I could add a few details to those objects to present my own style. So when the representative mentioned about an exhibition in Hà Nội, I could envision all the transformation and combination of Hanoia objects with the materials I have collected.

“I want to enrich the Vietnamese identity for those products by adding details that imbue in themselves the Vietnamese cultural feature. Those can be the ones that relate to Vietnamese history, traditional customs, or archaeology.”

'Ngọc Thực' (Golden Rice) created from a lacquer bowl and sickle. — Photo courtesy of Hanoia

In 2019, the artist returned to Việt Nam to select the necessary materials to carry out his previous ideas. During one month, he wandered every corner of Hà Nội, searching in numerous shops selling ethnic decorations and ceramic antiques, then travelled to Mai Châu – a mountainous region in the North, to find discarded materials – broken ceramic pieces, handloom cloth and debris for his work.

By the end of 2020, the artist completed 18 pieces. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an exhibition as planned was impossible.

“I thought ‘We have lots of time. Why we don’t do a bigger exhibition?’ and asked Hanoia to send me six other lacquer products, so today, we have 24 works on display at the show,” he said.

'Khảo Cổ' (Archaeology) created from lacquer wood and ceramics. — Photo courtesy of Hanoia

Hanoia co-founder Nguyễn Thị Nhung said that she feels thankful for the fruitful collaboration.

Nhung said; “With the extraordinary creativity of Jonemann, the lacquer vases, trays, and bowls are no longer applicable objects, but have been transformed into beautiful artworks, which, looking at them, you will feel like you are floating in a dream. I think this is the most wonderful function of those objects because they can evoke a nice feeling of everyone.” 

The businesswoman also said that Hanoia wants to be a bridge linking Vietnamese culture and art to other Asian and European regions, especially France.

A visitor looks at the work ‘Year of the Ox’ created from lacquer wood and buffalo horn at the exhibition 'New Look, New Lacquer – Gilles Jonemann for Hanoia. — VNS Photo Thúy Hằng

“We want Vietnamese people will have a chance to enjoy works by international talented designers and artists. Besides, our goal is to make Vietnamese handicraft products to be known in the region, farther in Europe and the world,” she added.

Born in 1944 in Geneva, Jonemann was educated at the École des Arts Appliqués (The School of Applied Arts) in Paris and at an academy in Aix-en-Provence. His whole life is associated with collecting special materials such as seashells, sea urchins, fragments of nuts and seeds from around the world and crafting them into exquisite and unique jewelry in his own way.

He has travelled to many parts of the world not only to serve his travel interests but also to collaborate with many companies and artists in Nicaragua, Madagascar, Mali, and most recently Việt Nam. In addition, he has collaborated with many luxury brands such as Issey Miyake, Hermés, Morabito and Per Spook.

Tự (Pagoda) was created from a lacquer vase and bamboo hangers. — Photo courtesy of Hanoia

Since 2006, he has been a member of the design team of Petit H by Hermes. He was one of the first to develop handcrafts collections that recycled waste materials from Hermes and other brands such as Puiforcat and Cristalleries Saint Louis.

The exhibition New Look, New Lacquer – Gilles Jonemann for Hanoia opens until December 1 at the Hà Nội Centre of Exhibition Information, 93 Đinh Tiên Hoàng Street. — VNS