In honor of the upcoming Chinese New Year in February 2024, Kering has invited Chen Ke, a prominent female contemporary Chinese artist, to collaborate on a crossover art project titled "Dragon Boat". The project will empower imagination and go beyond traditional cultural symbols, conveying a contemporary artistic touch to ring in a new year of prosperity.
Born in the 1970s, Chen Ke has witnessed the rapid development of China. In her creative career, she has skillfully intertwined Chinese traditional culture with Western culture. She typically uses the oil painting medium to evoke experiences and memories while signaling open-ended growth.
Her oil painting masterpiece "Dragon Boat" draws inspiration from the ancient Chinese legend of dragons. People endow this creature, derived from imagination, with free forms and personalities, embodying rich emotions.
On the vast icy surface, a dragon boat with a non-traditional shape slowly approaches a little girl dressed in winter clothes. The narrative context originates from traditional Chinese roots, but takes a different path, full of whimsy. The dragon boat is not just a boat nor a traditional symbol – it represents living beings, nature, and the universe. The dialogue between the child and the dragon boat transcends language to speak to the heart. The artist has expressed hope and joy in a world of imagination, presenting a unique and unrestricted wish in the Year of the Dragon.
Collaborating with Chinese artists on Lunar New Year campaigns has become a tradition for Kering: an important moment to pay homage to Chinese traditions with a contemporary twist. In 2023, the Group collaborated with contemporary Chinese painter Peng Wei, whose artwork That Year celebrated harmony of humans and nature via biodiversity protection. In 2022, Kering welcomed the year of the Tiger by commissioning contemporary calligrapher’s Xu Jing auspicious brushstroke. In 2020, paper-cut artist Wen Qiwen and her piece Gazing at the sky beyond the clouds presented a playful nod to Kering’s Chinese name “kaiyun”. The year before，Kering’s new year greetings saw another word play twist with artist Xu Bing’s innovative "English square character" calligraphy. These collaborations not only showcase Kering's support for art but also reflect its continuous pursuit of innovation and diversity.
In the upcoming Year of the Dragon, Kering and Chen Ke will present fascinating and excellent works of art. They will echo the Group’s signature mission, "Empowering Imagination", while aligning with Kering’s core concept of creativity and innovation, reflecting its core value of empowering women. This has long been supported by Kering’s Women In Motion program that shines a light on women’s contribution to culture and the arts. Earlier, Chen Ke was interviewed on the Kering Women In Motion official WeChat account, sharing her own creative vision.
In addition to the printed version of the artist's original artwork as a New Year greeting card, this crossover creative project also includes digital formats. Starting from January 23rd, Kering is also launching the "Kering Creative Relay" social challenge on its official Red account, inviting the public to participate in a New Year's wish campaign.
About Chen Ke
Chen Ke, born in 1978 in Tongjiang, Sichuan province, currently lives and works in Beijing.She holds a master’s degree from Sichuan Fine Arts Institute.
Chen Ke launched her career in Beijing after obtaining a BA from the Oil Painting Department of Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts in 2002 and an MFA in 2005 from the same faculty. Chen is among the generation witnessing the rapid development of China. Traditional Chinese culture and Western culture have intertwined throughout her growth and career.
In Chen’s early works, a fragile little girl was often depicted in a surrealistic background, struggling with a reversed reality, or wallowing in nostalgia in a lonely and innocent manner. Since 2012, Chen began to use the real figures in her photographic works as the object of description. From Frida to Monroe, she expressed her feelings in real life through the interpretation of these characters, especially the situation of women in society. And the experience of time and life.
In 2018, Chen set out on a new series, attempting to deal with the genuine feelings she has about her father. In these paintings, she managed to approach her personal experience and understanding of life in a more straightforward method. Through a series of mixed media paintings and installations inspired by the daily talk with the artist’s father, Chen discussed about youth, characteristic, family and aging in her solo exhibition The Real Deal is Talking with Dad at Yuz Museum (Shanghai, China).
In 2020, Chen debuts the Bauhaus Gal series. These portraits are based on the zeitgeist-charged archive photos of the Bauhaus. Chen prefers the classical conventions when delineating the faces of these pioneering young women of modern times. Immersed in their own world and in deep thought, they are completely oblivious of the gazes from the outside. While transforming into painting, these archive images undergo “physical implants” so that the painter can relive certain moments in life and recollect involuntary memories such as smell, light and touch, thereby reviving those black and white figures in these historical records. Her awareness of medium from years of painting practice helps her to establish a link between the ancient spirit and contemporary sentiments.
Chen Ke plots her art inside her own script, involving the medium of painting in the mutual generation of experiences and memories to endeavor an open-ended development.
A global Luxury group, Kering manages the development of a series of renowned Houses in Fashion, Leather Goods and Jewelry: Gucci, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, Brioni, Boucheron, Pomellato, DoDo, Qeelin, Ginori 1735 as well as Kering Eyewear and Kering Beauté. By placing creativity at the heart of its strategy, Kering enables its Houses to set new limits in terms of their creative expression while crafting tomorrow’s Luxury in a sustainable and responsible way. We capture these beliefs in our signature: “Empowering Imagination”.