The House of Ruinart Presents ‘Wall Art’ by Erwin Olaf @ Art Basel In Hong Kong

Ruinart has been joining forces with the most exceptional talents for a long time. In 1896, the House commissioned a renowned Czech artist named Alphonse Mucha to create the first famous advertising poster for Ruinart. In celebration of its 120th anniversary, Ruinart presents a series of 26 ‘Wall Art’ images shot by multi-award winning Dutch photographer, Erwin Olaf. The House’s commitment to the arts since the 19th Century has become inspirational, continuously expressed through the years by its participation in leading international art fairs and, in particular, through engaging world-renowned artists to create artworks inspired by the fascinating heritage and craftsmanship surrounding the prestigious champagne house.

As the official champagne of Art Basel, Ruinart gives artists carte blanche to decorate its VIP lounge, where the dynamism of the modern art gallery meets the luxury of Ruinart’s finest as another confirmation of the House’s centuries-old affair with arts. In 2016, Ruinart is unveiling the works of Erwin Olaf, who photographed a series of twenty-six ‘Wall Art’ images to illuminate the contemporary art found in cellars of the house. With his eye for perfection and reverence, the choice of Erwin Olaf became evident. The Dutch multidisciplinary artist emphasises precision in all visual elements painterly lighting, flawless hair and make-up, settings that create an allure of serenity but these highly stylised, polished depictions always have a subtext, addressing social issues, societal taboos and gender politics.

On his first visit to Reims, Erwin was fascinated and impressed by the depth and immensity of the Crayères (chalk pit cellars) and decided to concentrate on the details of their prehistoric natural formation and the traces left by man. With a signature style centred on the rigorous and architectural use of light, Erwin Olaf is famous for the rich colour palettes and textural visuals that infuse his intriguing portraits. However, his work for the house of Ruinart is intended to be a unique, almost revolutionary departure from his usual, baroque and hypnotic style. The characteristic tension often found in his subjects is replaced with a new sensation – a sense of serenity that has been captured in a singular moment in time.

In this artistic collaboration with Ruinart, Erwin Olaf used the Hasselblad camera that has been his constant companion for the last thirty-five years. Although he shot in black and white, he gave the photos a more luminous effect than if they had been created in colour. Apart from the twenty-six ‘Wall Art’ images, Erwin Olaf also employed his cinematic approach to photography to design an animated image paying tribute to the first collaboration in 1896 between the House of Ruinart and Alphonse Mucha. Using the poster designed by Mucha 120 years ago as a guide, the celebrated photographer reinterprets it for Ruinart by creating an artwork designed for the cellar-box (available in limited quantities in Hong Kong). The curves engraved subtly in the chalk-coloured wood recall the many arabesques of Mucha’s style.

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