Veteran French designer shows his world of creativity

By Lee Woo-young

Jean-Charles de Castelbajac holds first art exhibition in Seoul

  • Published : Jun 15, 2015 - 17:06
  • Updated : Jun 18, 2015 - 15:38
French fashion designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac opened his first art exhibition in Asia with a dynamic, spontaneous painting performance Thursday in Seoul. 

On white clothes a model was wearing at Seoul’s Blue Square, the designer started drawing bold black lines. In a couple more strokes, the plain clothes were turned into a pop art piece boasting a newly created animated character. 
French designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac holds a painting performance that celebrates the opening of his first art exhibition in Seoul. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)

Crossing the line between fine art and fashion, de Castelbajac presents at this Seoul exhibition some 100 of his pop art paintings that reflect his creativity for fashion design.

The works of art on display typically feature vibrant colors and animated characters. Highlights include a portrait of American pop artist Keith Haring, which de Castelbajac painted three years after the death of the pop art icon in 1990. 
Portrait of Keith Haring by Jean-Charles de Castelbajac (Art Delight)
“Keith Haring was one of my closest friends,” he said in a press conference prior to the exhibition opening. “We shared the same idea about art. We think that art should be shared by the public. Art is not for something exclusively owned by a small number of wealthy collectors, but a tool that can be used to change society.”

In the fashion world, de Castelbajac is a highly-respected avant-garde designer who still exerts fresh influences in his 60s. He dressed such big names as Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Pope John Paul II.

In the artistic world, he collaborated with leading pop artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol.

Preparing for his first Seoul art exhibition, he made a 25-square-meter painting, which is about the size of an average college student’s room in Seoul.

“I asked my art team that in what size apartment an average college student lives in Seoul. Based on what they told me, I ordered the 25-square-meter canvas. It was bigger than I thought,” he said.

“I felt like I walked into an apartment in Seoul,” he added.

Another painting he created in Seoul features a cargo boat named “Soul” with stacked cargo individually identified as values he treasures, such as family, love, faith, peace and courage.

“I have visited Seoul since 1984. I feel really close to the city. The reason I wanted to paint here was the response Seoulites showed to creativity. I have always thought I could bridge art and fashion in Seoul,” said de Castelbajac.

In 2013, the designer was among the speakers of the Herald Design Forum, sharing with Koreans what inspires his art and fashion. Last year, Korean fashion group Hyungji launched a golf wear brand named after him. 
Portraits by Jean-Charles de Castelbajac (Art Delight)

The Jean-Charles de Castelbajac exhibition is organized by Art Delight, sponsored by fashion group Hyungji and supported by the French Embassy and the Institut Francais. It runs until July 3 at Blue Square on Itaewon-ro, Seoul. (wylee@heraldcorp.com) 

By Lee Woo-young