"In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different."
So said Coco Chanel, and truer words have never been spoken. She was a fashion legend who created worlds of glamour and fantasy for millions of women, and she is the subject of a limited series by pop surrealist artist Tiago Azevedo, who will be painting her portrait along with six other designers who have passed as part of his upcoming series, “The Eyes of Fashion.” Each legend, which will also include Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld, Gloria Vanderbilt, L’ren Scott, Diana Vreeland and Alexander McQueen, will be captured in Azevedo’s signature aesthetic. “These designers helped shape our culture,” said Azevedo. The collection will debut this spring in New York and then exhibit globally.
“Fashion is an art form that has influence in all other areas. My painting has a strong relation with pop culture just as fashion,” said Azevedo, who has exhibited previous collections around the world, including at the Louvre and Vatican City, among other locations. “These legends had an eye for capturing beauty and I thought it would be interesting to capture that expression.”
“The world needs fantasy, not reality. We have enough reality today.” -- Alexander McQueen
Painting real-life figures is a departure for Azevedo, whose previous works have been focused on fantasy, fairy tales and fables, though his last collection, “Historical Figures,” depicted re-imagined people like Marie Antoinette, Cleopatra and Joan of Arc. The series earned international notice and got the artist in a place he was comfortable painting the designers. “I paint mostly portraits of imaginary characters that touch me the most,” he says. But for the designers, “I did not have to think about how the character will be. The image just comes to me in my mind, all I have to do is to gather a series of techniques to translate it to the canvas.” For the fashion icons specifically, “there is a stronger focus on expression rather than the manipulation of facial features. It is important to capture their thinking process,” the artist says. “I tried to pay homage to their style and stay true to the beauty they have set onto the world.”
“Style: all who have it share one thing. Originality” -- Diana Vreeland.
Azevedo aesthetic has made him a standout in the pop surrealist world, and “The Eyes of Fashion” is no exception. “In my art I always manipulate facial features, and in this case, I have to be extra careful so that manipulation matches the personality of the designer,” he says. “The rest is already done for me. I truly believe that the iconic physical image of the designers I chose are already related to their fashion house.”
With “Fashion Eyes,” Azevedo “hopes to shine a new spotlight on characters that are themselves a true piece of art for the beauty they brought into the world,” he said.
Azevedo is one of the most imaginative, original painters working in the pop surrealist form.
“Painting is a way to say everything I want, everything that fascinates and inspires me in one single image,” he says. “I have an idea of a particular subject, then comes a blurred image on my mind that I convert into a quick sketch to capture how I want it to be, this is the most creative part, then when it is time to paint, that turns out to be a sequence of technical steps that end in a finished canvas. It is a laborious process with a lot of attention to detail, expression and texture.”
“I’m in love with beauty and things and people and love, and those things, I think, on the inside show on the outside.” -- Gloria Vanderbilt
“The Eyes of Fashion” is Azevedo’s fourth major collection, and only his second based on real life figures. “I have always been passionate about fables,” says Azevedo, who was born in Portugal on Terceira Island. The lush landscape of the terrain – part of Azores archipelago -- triggered his early imagination and trained his budding eye to the fantastic. “I love the imaginary, the mystique and fantasy inherent to them.”
"I am like a caricature of myself, and I like that. It is like a mask” -- Karl Lagerfeld
The artist’s previous collections -- “Fairytales,” “Religion” and “Historical Figures” – were critical hits in the pop surrealist art community, and greatly expanded his fanbase. “My audience tends to be very diversified,” Azevedo says. “It consists mainly of people who love the fantastic, but as almost all my paintings are portraits, sometimes people simply fall in love with the way the painted figure looks at them, as if they were talking to them, and curiously these are the people who often purchase my originals simply because they fell in love with the subject.”
“It is a great satisfaction to see such a large number of people understanding the concept behind what I create, it makes me feel like my mission of stimulating emotions within people has been fulfilled,” the artist says.
More on Tiago Azevedo: https://www.tiagoazevedo.com/