Guo Pei: Chinese Art and Couture at Asian Civilisations Museum

Singapore, 12 June 2019 – In a collaboration with world famous couturière Guo Pei, the Asian Civilisations Museum presents, for the first time, art through couture in a juxtaposition of masterpieces created centuries apart. The exquisite showcase examines the relevance and impact of Chinese art, and how Chinese aesthetics and traditions are being reimagined for the world today.

Guo Pei: Chinese Art and Couture opens the museum’s Season of Chinese Art, which will explore the best of the genre presented for a contemporary, international audience. With 20 Chinese art masterpieces from the Museum’s collection and 29 dresses by Guo Pei, this blockbuster exhibition spans two galleries and is part of the Museum’s commitment to examine the diverse cultural heritage of Asia, interconnections within Asia, and Asian connections with the rest of the world.

Mr Kennie Ting, Director of Asian Civilisations Museum and Peranakan Museum, explains, “Guo Pei: Chinese Art and Couture is significant to our visitors for two reasons. It is our first special exhibition dedicated to fashion and is representative of our shift to the contemporary domain. Our aim is to make a point as to how heritage and tradition are very much relevant to the contemporary; that heritage and tradition can be remarkably sexy and alluring. Every masterpiece in the exhibition is a unique blend of contemporary and traditional design, material and craft. Second, the exhibition has been designed to give visitors a simple and visually arresting overview of Chinese art history – imperial art, export art, and folk art. We wanted a show that would introduce visitors to aspects of Chinese art – materials like silk and porcelain, the craft of embroidery, motifs like peonies and phoenixes – in a completely unexpected and, hopefully, very memorable fashion.”

The main exhibition space features three sections. In ‘Gold is the Colour of my Soul’, Guo Pei’s signature yellow and gold works reflect the historical significance of colour, techniques, and materials strongly associated with imperial China.

Through ‘China and the World’, Guo Pei’s hybrid designs parallel Chinese export art in blending Chinese imagery creatively with Western silhouettes and tailoring.

In ‘Treasured Heirlooms: Chinese Bridal Dress’, Guo Pei’s works continue and modernise traditional Chinese bridal style, with strong Peranakan connections; and they have found relevance with celebrity brides today, including Angelababy, Liu Shi Shi, and Tang Yan.

Every sightline in the exhibition space emphasises a visual dialogue between the historical and the contemporary through deliberate juxtapositions of Chinese art masterpieces and Guo Pei’s masterworks. Each pairing shows off the best of Chinese traditional craftsmanship as well as modern couture techniques in the expression of creativity and storytelling. Just as how in the past Chinese export art garnered demand around the world, its reinvention and modern interpretations continue to fascinate the world today and provoke visitors to consider how the past continues to inspire the future.

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