“The idea was to bring back energy, a silhouette that really expressed motion, because Bottega is a bag company, so you go somewhere, you don’t stay home,” Matthieu Blazy explained in the aftermath of his acclaimed debut for the Milan-based luxury house. Opting to return to the Italian capital, the 69-look collection was heralded as a triumph of traditionalism and innovation all at once. As one of the most hotly anticipated shows of the year, the Paris-born, La Cambre-graduated, former deputy Raf Simons, Phoebe Philo and Daniel Lee delivered a craft-driven manifesto of modern luxury. From the moment Paola Manes stepped out clutching the Kalimero, an entirely handwoven new approach to intreccio, while wearing what appeared to be a white tank top and jeans that had been crafted in leather, this was a show of artisanal engineering. Behind the trompe l’oeil-stealth wealth and quiet luxury, this was a celebration of craft in motion that played with subverting tradition with movement, sensuality and life. Welcome to new, new Bottega Veneta.
“When I took over the job, I sat with the team and we asked ourselves a simple question: ‘What is Bottega?’” Blazy told British Vogue back in September. “‘What is craft, and where does it sit in tradition? How can we bring modernity?’” These early conversations focused their energies on articulating the feeling of the brand. By truly understanding the origin story, journey and true essence of Bottega Veneta, Blazy and his team were able to take it to their own destinations of desire. “This collection is a journey,” he told us post-show back in February. “There are many characters, they all have places to go, they feel quite free.”
The sense of movement, perspectives in dialogue, and journeying through experiences is echoed in the debut campaign too. Shot by multiple photographers and consisting of 41 film images that transport the collection and viewer from the San Fedele show venue in Milan to the Horst Festival in Belgium and the southern coast of Italy. “Bottega Veneta was created by a collective of artisans. This is the history and this is how we approached the campaign: together, with many different ways of seeing.” Inspired, LN-CC enlisted Lithuanian-born, London-based photographer Jurga Ramonaite to shoot the collection as it interacted with the artwork of Emanuel de Carvalho’s recent debut UK solo exhibition, new state. In addition to highlighting the collection's core theme of craft in motion, Jurga’s lens explores the shared sensuality and playfulness of perception inherent to both Bottega Veneta and the Royal College of Art MA of Painting student's work.
Firstly, we know you as a Portugal-born, London-based artist that uses multiple mediums to challenge societal constructs around gender and identity, but how do you like to introduce yourself?
I’m a visual artist that uses painting predominantly to document and address topics that are current in our society, mostly pertaining to gender categorisation, mortality and perceptive mechanisms of vision. I have a somewhat unconventional background, having studied medicine and worked as a model. I feel all these different facets inform and permeate the work that I make and grant me a lens that is very much a reflection of my personality and past work experiences.
Congratulations on your recent first UK solo exhibition! Shown at Gut Gallery, new state used painting, sculpture and sound to question ways of seeing in the current zeitgeist. What did you hope viewers took away from new state?
Thank you! new state was a major turning point for me as it marked the first solo presentation of a new body of work that went beyond painting, introducing sound and installation that were conceived as a response to the works. The overarching theme of the show was the exploration of the psychological concept of ‘anticipation’. Anticipation can be thought of as a coping mechanism that involves pleasure or anxiety towards an expected event. Many of the works juxtapose objects and human subjects in unusual ways, bodies are hidden, dissected in odd patterns, context is dictated by the surrounding objects. To many, this triggers a sense of anxiety and it is precisely this feeling of otherness that I am trying to isolate. I believe disrupting our structure of vision is a crucial step in raising awareness towards our own perceptive responses.
Thanks again for allowing LN-CC to integrate two works with our Bottega Veneta feature. For us, we see a similarity between the dialogue between the sensual and the sensorial within your practice and the luxury house’s approach to craft-in-fashion. Both leave us with a sense of longing, intrigue, and desire to touch. Could you talk us through Auto-Performance 1 and Auto-Performance 2?
Auto-performance I and Auto-performance II are intrinsically linked. The top part of the painting shows a leather chair covered with a towel and a velvet sofa while the bottom half depict a human body holding an object that could be read as a response to the scene above. The images are split by a horizontal coloured line that dissects the painting. The chair and sofa are taken from screenshots of chatrooms in which the person/owner leaves the room while the camera keeps recording. I find that these backgrounds offer an insight into our own human-centricity, how we tend to perceive human bodies inhabiting spaces even when these are absent from the image. At the same time, these chatrooms are testament to our increasing existence in the metaverse and my response(s) to this inevitability is depicted in the action of the human subject, a positive anticipatory response (the flowers) and a negative anticipatory response (the distorted animal skull).
Building on the success of new state, what’s next? Is there anything you’re working on or soon-to-release that you’d like to promote here?
I usually work in concepts and at the moment I am researching domesticity of spaces and how this informs interpretation of otherness. This new body of work will be presented at a solo show with Duarte Sequeira gallery in Seoul. Further to this, I have been invited to be part of group shows in Shanghai, Seoul, Berlin and London, and in 2023 I will graduate from the Royal College of Art. To be able to present my work to a wide audience is a privilege, and I recognise how lucky I am to be able to do what I am so passionate about.
Artist Emanuel de Carvalho @emanuel__car Photography Jurga Ramonite @jurrga Models Elvina @thelvinapatrick_, @milkmodelmanagement. Yuto @yutoebhr, @nextmodels. Hair and make-up Olivia Cochrane @oliviacochranemakeup. Director of Photography Victor De Halleux @victor.dehalleux. Photography assistant Federico Covarelli @federicocovarelli.