Art and fashion united by Eva Armisén
8 May, 2014
The work of the painter and artist Eva Armisén is reaching the world of fashion, cosmetics and accessories. Her creative imagination attracts a very diverse public from around the world.
“Exportable talent” was the headline of one report devoted to Eva Armisén published in a national newspaper a few months ago. Exportable is true enough, but what is particularly interesting is just how international her appeal is. Armisén, born in Zaragoza and resident in Catalonia since studying Fine Arts in Barcelona, produces work that transcends borders and in fact is today better known on the markets of Asia and the US than in Spain. Last spring she put her name to her first collection of fashion items for the firm O’2con – a limited run of dresses, t-shirts and shoes that have been selling mainly in America, South Korea and China.
South Korea and Armisén
A few months ago, around Christmas time, a major installation with figures and paintings by the artist presided the entrance and hall of Seoul’s Doosan Tower, one of the most important malls in South Korea and home to hundreds of fashion stores. And while her imagination was welcoming customers into the mall, the windows of the Soul Art Space in Pusan, the country’s second-largest city, were being turned into immense pictures painted by Armisén. Two unique gifts considering that Koreans are among her biggest fans and Korea is one of the places where she is gaining most renown, whether for her clothing, paintings or – as has recently been the case – beauty products.
South Korea is a fashion powerhouse in Asia and an excellent opening for expanding onto other markets in the zone. With some 49 million citizens and a land mass one-fifth the size of Spain, it ranks 10th in the global cosmetics sector, where activity is valued at €7.2 billion, according to figures from the Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade (ICEX), and has grown by 68% since 2008. The most tangible result is a population, particularly the women, which allocates a good part of its disposal income to purchasing fashion and beauty products.
It is specifically for this latter sector that Armisén has agreed to adapt her work to a collection of cosmetic products for the firm The Skin Food. This is the first time the Korean beauty company has worked with an artist and it was keen to do so with her. “This work connects me to a public that might not have bought my paintings and I like being able to reach out to them through these products. However, I always make sure such adaptations take the form of limited editions because I don’t want to see my picture all over the place,” she says.
More than paintings
These types of projects that extend beyond painting, ceramics and sculpture and are closer to the world of fashion “have come about without me planning it” and are increasingly more common. On the table is a possible proposal for a collection of handbags with an Italian firm, and to design certain homewear items for a Spanish-Portuguese company: “I like working with companies where I can learn about the people who form part of them and understand the message they want to get out to the public. Coming up with stories and conveying them through these more diverse means is what I like”.
“It’s true that at the moment I am doing a lot of work in Asia and the US, more abroad than at home. But I have lots of things on the go here, too. Next week I will open an exhibition in Valencia and the week after that I’ve got one in Lisbon,” Armisén explains, going over her busy schedule, with barely a day off in the whole of the year. Los Angeles is another city where she is generating a great deal of public interest. She has been flying into LA various times a year for more than a decade to show at the Andrew Shire gallery.
We ask her why her artistic language is able to establish a dialogue with such different cultures and countries and she responds:
-Are you asking me how I would define my work? That’s something I always find really hard to explain. I would, however, say that my work is very narrative and speaks about the fundamental things in life, things that can make you feel good, and people are touched by that”.
Happiness, excitement, dreams, laughter, solitude (understood as a time to get back into contact with yourself and of peace) are part of the narrative that Armisén conveys in her paintings and the collaborations with fashion, beauty and decoration firms or the advertising sector.
“One of the first collaborations I did was with Coca-Cola. They saw my work in a gallery and approached me about doing a joint project. Initially I found it hard to grasp that I was working within a number of margins laid down by the company, but then, once I adapted to this new way of working, I was ok. We ended up delivering a fantastic project which I got a lot out of. In fact, I have taken ideas for paintings from all of these projects, ideas that are highly interesting,” Armisén says.
She launches into a long list of collaborations she has undertaken over the 20-plus years she has been working as an artist and pauses to go into detail about a very special one – the “Los Armisen” online store, which she runs together with her sister. Here you can find the whole of the artist’s creative universe applied to a great variety of products: fasteners, clothing, fans, carpets and pieces of jewellery. They fill the virtual store window which Eva Armisén has dedicated to her “magical family” and which blends reality and fiction to construct a narrative dedicated to “the little things that make us happy”.
“I use the family, as the backbone of the work, for many things. They tell joint stories and each person also has his or her individual story. They don’t all respond to the reality around me; I build their characters and some things may be real and others not,” Armisén explains, as a way of warding off the comparisons that can be made between her artistic work and her personal reality.
The conversation draws to a close, but before it ends, she confesses she has so many ideas she doesn’t have time to get around to them all: “My inspiration never ends; I believe the secret is to never stop. That means I always have more and more new ideas! Some people sit in front of a piece of paper and their ideas dry up, but in my case it’s the opposite. I have so many they never end”.