Highlights from the Collections and Inspirations of Charlie le Mindu

            The work of Charlie le Mindu is at once fashionable, edgy, erotic, and surreal.

Le Mindu’s “Gold Sabah” collection, though first revealed while clad atop gold-painted women during Fashion Week Paris and Berlin, is now presented at projects+gallery. Straddling the line between high fashion and contemporary sculpture, le Mindu has pioneered the use of human hair as a medium to create what he has dubbed “haute coiffure.” The works featured in “Golden Sabah” were meticulously assembled through a process in which Charlie dipped each piece of natural hair into a genuine golden paint, creating a metallic effect that underscores the fascination le Mindu holds for the illustrious Queen of Sheba, whose female power served as inspiration for the collection. Equally prominent African influences surface within the mask-like shapes of the sculptures, emulating the traditional African tribal masks and hair styling that le Mindu witnessed while travelling to Africa.

Face Hat, “Gold Sabah” Autumn/Winter 2013, Synthetic Hair, Polystyrene

Face Hat, “Gold Sabah” Autumn/Winter 2013, Synthetic Hair, Polystyrene

Feminine strength also serves as the conceptual base for le Mindu’s collection, “Metal Queen”, a series of wigs and costumes whose forms derive from both the swank of Canadian metal and jazz as well as female icons whose strength Charlie admires. Charlie elaborates on these influences, stating that “These strong women who are a little afraid of men have made an impression on me, such as Nina Hagen, Grace Jones, or again, Rossy de palma.”[1] The edgy, black and white contrasted figures of “Metal Queen” feature what Charlie has more delicately nicknamed “hair petals”, or sleek forms created by smoothing the hair utilizing lacquer product.

Black and White Hat, "Metal Queen" Spring/Summer 2013, Synthetic Hair, Plastic

Black and White Hat, "Metal Queen" Spring/Summer 2013, Synthetic Hair, Plastic

            Charlie utilized similar techniques for his “Stronger” collection, an amalgam of phosphorescent hairpieces inspired by the existence of deep-sea creatures. The collection gives off a nearly retro vibe, as it fills a dark room with the glowing colors and forms reminiscent of a vibrant 70s disco. A jellyfish sporting a neon ombré stands alongside a spunky mohawk hairpiece, with the winding, outreached arms of a crab next door. DS World Paris saw the debut of “Stronger” in 2014, as well as a showing of the “Gold Sabah” collection. Both collections, as well as “Metal Queen”, are now on show at projects+gallery.

Crab Hat, "Stronger" Spring/Summer 2014, Synthetic Hair, PVC

Crab Hat, "Stronger" Spring/Summer 2014, Synthetic Hair, PVC

The Wearable Art of Karl Fritsch

            “Yes of course the ring wants to be beautiful. The technique also wants to be beautiful, and most often it’s the idea that wants to be the most beautiful. But sometimes a piece likes nothing better than to sit in the mud and not give a damn about how it looks. If it is exactly what it wants to be in a given moment, it is precise, perfect, and the most beautiful.”[1] Abandoning the hackneyed jewelry making methods he had learned while studying at Goldsmiths’ college in Pforzheim, Germany, artist Karl Fritsch melded traditional jewelry forms with contemporary art, creating pieces that discarded beauty as the ideal and embraced an unexpected, rugged aesthetic. Fritsch’s pieces are unpolished, often gnarled and inlaid with roughly cut stones and niello, a technique whose image harkens to medieval jewelry but whose contemporary designs evoke a witty and fashionable charm. Fritsch often reinvents existing jewelry, oxidizing the metal into a glinting, craggy texture and replacing the original stones with his own vibrant selections.

Ring: silver, iron, diamond, rubies, garnet.

Ring: silver, iron, diamond, rubies, garnet.

 The pieces themselves are eclectic and rowdy characters, some being dubbed “brilliants” whereas others are “fuckwits.”[2] Fritch describes the quirks of his rings, stating that “one moment, a ring wants to look a certain way, and the next, it wants to look like something quite different. Sometimes it even freaks out, is unruly, out of control. Sometimes a ring plays a joke on me, or it sits at the table like a good child, doing nothing. Then it’s about quickly soldering, casting, filing, setting stones. The ring can’t wait; it is impatient and wants to hurry.”

Our collection of Karl Fritsch jewelry was recently featured in a post by ALIVE Magazine, which can be found here.

Ring 2411, 2002: Oxidized sivler, rubies, and diamond.

Ring 2411, 2002: Oxidized sivler, rubies, and diamond.

[1] Fritsch, Karl and Becky Bliss, eds. Karl Fritsch: Ninkern. Hanau: Deutsches Goldschmiedehaus Hanau, 2012.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.