Behind all that glitter and color - Part I

Behind all the glitters and colors, just what and who is hiding? That's the question I would like to ask Nick Cave after seeing these pieces. Presently, there are two of his shows running concurrently Ever-After at Jack Shainman Gallery is up until October 8 and For Now at Mary Boone Gallery is up until October 22. In order to get the full experience, you would need to see both shows. Besides the one video work at Shaiman and the one painting at Boone, the Soundsuits are no doubt the more dominant part of both shows. In addition to the physically complex fabrication, his works are also conceptually convoluted. From the vibrantly chaotic arrangements of colors to the various mixes of different types of textiles, everything is perhaps a gesture for something significant in meaning. With this said, I shall do the best as I can to describe and recognize some of these meaningful elements.


Upon entering the gallery, It was easy to be instantly taken aback by the visually stunning haute couture style of the costumes, but even trying to get a closer visual examination proved challenging this past weekend. As the gallery was filled by numerous onlookers in awe whom couldn't stop taking pictures from left to right and front to back of me. Another additional obstacle was since the Soundsuits stood almost eight feet in height and tightly displayed next to each other, it left very little space for me to step back in order to take full shots of the costumes. Apart from the physical obstacle I experienced while in the gallery space of which I gladly endured, seeing Cave's Soundsuits at Mary Boone felt like being hit with an oceanic wave of intense colors accompanied by a mad symphony of textures. Before delving into the conceptual, let us first admire the physical and visual intricacy of these made-hand pieces.



Perhaps taking inspiration from the 1980s sequins dresses with floral patterns, the juxtaposing warm and cool tones of the tiny violet, pink, green and gold sequins looked gaudy but also felt festive. Being the Chairman of the fashion department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Cave's meticulous design and craftsmanship for these sequined pieces manifested his expertise. While this Soundsuit stood like an abundant bouquet of exploding flowers to me, Curator Dan Cameron once compared this to the elaborately produced festive costumes of Mardi Gras.


This second piece reminded me of the textiles from the 1960s. The bright orange circles with yellow rinds covered partially both the inside and the outside of these multi-threaded organic shapes looked to be the dominant motif. Furthermore, the semi-circular repetitive pattern reminded me of something belonged to a dance party movie scene from the Swinging London time. The chain of small royal blue flowers enclosing on the aqua marine and white colored petals of the flowers also reflected certain styles of ethnic costumes from the minority regions of South Asia. The interesting aspect of these textile works was that Cave seemed to be taking exotic textile elements from various sources then combining them together. By doing so, these Soundsuits seemed to represent multi-ethnicity.


Absolutely enamored by Cave's uncanny craftsmanship with textiles, I couldn't resist showing another close-up image. All the Soundsuits were made to measure and meant to be worn on actual human bodies. By extending the headpieces a few feet further than the normal human height range, the wearers' identity would inevitably be hidden. While looking at these Soundsuits, I liked Cave's audacious invitation for the wearers of his visually elaborate skins to become faceless exotic creatures whom would only be looked at in awe for the exterior appearances but not to be fully understood or even seen openly as an individual

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