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Portrait of Ewa Juszkiewicz with Louis Vuitton Artycapucines 2023

Ewa Juszkiewicz Fuses Art and Fashion to Explore Female Identity

Born from an interest in the past and a promise for the future, Ewa Juszkiewicz’s work challenges the perceptions, constraints, stereotypes, and limitations of women around the world and over centuries. Whitewall spoke with the Polish artist on presenting reimagined narratives for women in her paintings, and collaborating with Louis Vuitton on its latest Artycapucines collection.

The Polish artist Ewa Juszkiewicz deconstructs female conventions and reconstructs ideals through her paintings filled with unexpected contrasts and contradictions. Often, lush florals or flowing hair replace supple lips and wide eyes, ridding the subject of presumed storylines and returning the tale to the woman in frame. Her painting Ginger Locks (2021) is a perfect example. Brushstrokes depict the profile of a woman dressed in blue, her hair swirling in collected tufts that take the place of her face. The piece continues Juszkiewicz’s concentration on exploring the juxtaposition of historical and contemporary portraiture, as well as the suppression of female identities in the Western world. 

Born from an interest in the past and a promise for the future, Juszkiewicz’s work challenges the perceptions, constraints, stereotypes, and limitations of women around the world and over centuries by presenting reimagined narratives. Here, previously oppressed storylines are erased, and women get a second shot without gender and assumptions at the forefront. 

Ewa Juszkiewicz Studio

Photo by Jan Kriwol, courtesy of the artist and Louis Vuitton.

Earlier this year, it was announced that the painter would collaborate with Louis Vuitton on its latest Artycapucines collection, in addition to Billie Zangewa, Liza Lou, Tursic & Mille, and Ziping Wang. The imaginative initiative illuminates the work of artists with unique visions on the maison’s classic Capucines bag. In this recent iteration, Zangewa reaches for her silk patchworks, building from her work The Swimming Lesson, featuring her son Mika between sea and sand. Lou returned to her work with beads, embossing the textural materials onto soft leather in soft washes of colorful hues. The artistic duo Tursic & Mille reinvented the bag in a floral shape to host their painting Tenderness, accompanied by a charred cedar wood handle. And Wang’s piece—the smallest Artycapucines bag so far—features a gorgeous confection of leather patchwork in clouds, checkered patterns, and sweet treat motifs with a candy-striped handle.  

For Juszkiewicz, Ginger Locks was the perfect surrealistic starting point. It reflected the overall mood of her work and allowed her to keep the details of the colors and composition. First, the painting’s background is re-created on the handbag, hand-sprayed directly on the calfskin leather to move from light to dark green. Then a 3D digital printing technique is used to reproduce the portrait, which also covers the LV logo, capturing each detail in high-definition. Finally, the handmade piece is complemented by a handmade string of gold-colored pearls, affixed under the metal LV logo. And inside the green-gray satin interior, a detachable leather envelope inspired by the aesthetics of an 18th-century love letter awaits, printed with a detail of the hair from Ginger Locks

Ahead of her exhibition “In a Shady Valley, Near a Running Water,” on view at Gagosian Beverly Hills now through December 22, Juszkiewicz spoke with Whitewall about her collaboration with Louis Vuitton.

WHITEWALL: Why was Ginger Locks the painting your collaboration with Louis Vuitton started from?

EWA JUSZKIEWICZ: When I started working on the design of my bag, I wanted it to reflect the character and mood of my paintings as much as possible. Keeping in mind the size of the bag, it was very important for me to keep the aura of my paintings, and to not lose the details. The colors and composition of my Ginger Locks painting turned out to be the perfect choice. I’m glad it worked out so well. The final result that we achieved together with the Louis Vuitton team is stunning.

A Dialogue Between Artist, Maison, and Audience in the Latest Artycapucines Collection

WW: What might the woman in Ginger Locks be saying to the viewer that resonates with the spirit of a Louis Vuitton woman?

EJ: I think that the woman in Ginger Locks is strong, independent, and dynamic. She does not succumb to stereotypes and does not allow herself to be pigeonholed. She does not impose established beauty standards on herself or others.

WW: The painting’s background hue is re-created by hand spray-painting the colors onto a calfskin canvas. How does this technique, one you don’t typically use, honor the look you can achieve in the studio? What does it give the work that’s different?

EJ: Indeed, although I don’t use spray-painting in my practice on a daily basis, the effect we managed to achieve is almost identical to what the backgrounds in my paintings look like. While working in the studio, I use many different tools and methods of applying paint to create various structures and effects. This is the essence of painting; I love this process. The bag I designed contains elements that are handmade by Louis Vuitton expert artisans. Thanks to their elaborate work, each bag is unique.

WW: What is it like to see your artwork on a bag, which will be carried and not just admired in an art-centric setting?

EJ: It’s thrilling! I am very happy that the bag I designed will be worn in public spaces––in everyday life, on the move in constantly changing environments. I can’t wait to see it worn for various occasions and diversely styled by different people in their own individual ways.

Ewa Juszkiewicz Studio

Photo by Jan Kriwol, courtesy of the artist and Louis Vuitton.

A Mosaic of Materials and Techniques Liberate and Stir Emotions

WW: The bag itself features a calfskin exterior adorned with a handmade string of gold-colored pearls and an interior of gray satin that hides a detachable leather envelope. What was it like working with these materials?

EJ: Working with these materials was a great adventure! The process of creating the bag was complex and had many different stages. We exchanged samples with the Louis Vuitton team many times and I considered the use of various materials and techniques. I must admit that it was my first time working with leather and pearls and it was a very valuable experience. But the biggest challenge was that all the materials we used had to meet not only aesthetic requirements, but also practical ones. All materials and technical solutions that we used had to meet specific requirements. I’m happy that every aspect of the bag is perfect, and we didn’t have to compromise in any respect. This bag looks exactly as I dreamed.

WW: The leather envelope inside was inspired by the aesthetic of 18th-century love letters and features a printed detail of hair from the woman in Ginger Locks. How does this creative choice focus storytelling around femininity and its associations—like romance, glamour, and mystery?

EJ: When designing the envelope, I was referring to both 18th-century traditions as well as Surrealism. I intentionally reached for the world of romanticism and non-obvious solutions. By referencing the aesthetics of 18th-century love letters, I wanted to evoke a mood of mystery and romance. I was similarly inspired by 18th-century jewelry while designing the pearl necklace. Pearls, which were often depicted in paintings from that period, have had many meanings in the history of art––they were a symbol of love and passion, but also infidelity. Through these creative choices, I aimed to liberate feelings and sensuality, and to stir emotions.

Ewa Juszkiewicz and Louis Vuitton Artycapucines 2023

Photo by Piotr Stoklosa, courtesy of the artist and Louis Vuitton.

Ewa Juszkiewicz Explores Femininity Alongside Louis Vuitton Artisans

WW: How does your personal view of femininity—filled with beauty, constraints, and potential—play into this collaboration?

EJ: I think my bag fully reflects my view of femininity. All elements of the bag manifest feminine power and sensuality. While working on the project, I reached for intuition and emotions. I wanted the character of my bag to be dreamy, ambiguous, and disturbing––a reference to the Surrealist tradition. I wished it to be in opposition to idealized female images and stereotypical canons of feminine beauty.

Ewa Juszkiewicz and Louis Vuitton Artycapucines 2023

Courtesy of Louis Vuitton.

WW: Since 2011, your oil paintings have featured portraits drawing on classical European painting, with a twist, obscuring the subjects’ faces to comment on the suppression of the female identity. How does your Artycapucines collaboration explore contrasts, contradictions, and juxtapositions, too?

EJ: It explores these issues on many levels, not only in terms of content, but also in form. In this bag design, just like in my painting, I mix elements connected to traditional female identity with those that are both surreal and related to nature. In this way, I want to disturb conventions and clichés of female representation that are ubiquitous in the history of art.

WW: What was it like working with a luxury fashion brand like Louis Vuitton and its artisans to create this collaboration?

EJ: Our collaboration was perfect in every aspect. The Louis Vuitton team was very supportive throughout the entire process. They were so generous in sharing their experience with me. The Louis Vuitton expert artisans were able to find technical solutions to my ideas, which was sometimes a challenge, because each solution had to meet the highest standards. I wish every collaboration was this successful!

Ewa Juszkiewicz and Louis Vuitton Artycapucines 2023

Photo by Piotr Stoklosa, courtesy of the artist and Louis Vuitton.

Ewa Juszkiewicz at La Biennale di Venezia this Spring

WW: Is there an aspect of this project you’ve brought back to the studio?

EJ: Transferring my painting onto a three-dimensional object and taking it out of the frame of the canvas into the public space was an exceptional experience. I find this kind of fusion of art and fashion fascinating and full of possibilities. I hope to continue my adventure with the world of fashion in the future.

WW: What will your solo exhibition, opening in spring 2024, entail?

EJ: It will open at the Palazzo Cavanis in Venice, in connection with the 60th International Art Exhibition––La Biennale di Venezia. Guillermo Solana, the artistic director of the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, will curate this show, and it will be presented in collaboration with Almine Rech.

Portrait of Ewa Juszkiewicz with Louis Vuitton Artycapucines 2023

Portrait of Ewa Juszkiewicz; photo by Jan Kriwol, courtesy of the artist and Louis Vuitton.

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THE WINTER EXPERIENCE ISSUE
2023

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