Brand logos – what do we really know about them? Take for example, Lacoste, which is named after Rene Lacoste, who was a famous French tennis player that earned the moniker “Le Crocodile” when he boasted to buy a set of expensive crocodile skin luggage if he won the tournament. He lost and the nickname stuck around as a mockery but then evolved into the symbol of the luxury sports clothing brand. Certain symbols of luxury have imprinted themselves in our culture and the artist, Vandana Jain, reconfigures the idea of brand logos to be viewed as unique artistic expressions. AF attended the opening at Independent Station Projects last January 9thfor The Shorthand of Luxury.
Vandana Jain has a background of textile designer and the current oeuvre presented in this show is her exploration into reconfiguring brand logos as pattern or design that signifies a whole new interpretation that is not consumer driven. The proliferation of iconic commercial symbols has affixed itself firmly in our consciousness that it is difficult to objectively see it simply as a shape or an animal form. An entire wall of the gallery is covered by the precise and meticulous paintings of Jain namely Spider, Panther, and Snake Totems (2009) and The Shorthand of Luxury (2012) that are arranged in a pattern that fools the eye. You can easily mistake it for a wallpaper in classic black and white but the repetition, alternate placement, and ingenious composition are devices employed to entice you into closer observation. The animals rendered in a totem pole formation are considered sinister but in other cultures they are divine. Jain intended to create a whole new rendition that represents her and her Southeast Indian culture. Why can’t these logos be customized to represent an individual and not the company owning it?
In the animation The Top 100 Global Corporations (2011), she made a kaleidoscopic Tibetan mandala formation of Fortune 500 company logos that radiate a nucleus of hierarchy where the ordered rank starts at the center. This is a clever juxtaposition of fast paced commerce versus the reflective symbol of Eastern religion. Isn’t commerce the religion of the capitalist? Can we change it to mean something else? Jain raises many questions but we have to commiserate.
What is real luxury anyway in this life? Do we buy the idea by the logos they sell or do we create them to fit our true selves and what we value? In this case, luxury is in the eye of the beholder and Jain visually showed us the way to real nirvana. Owning yourself and expressing it is the real luxury that you can afford.
Vandana Jain: The Shorthand of Luxury / On View: Jan. 9 – Feb. 10, 2013
Gallery Hours: Thursday – Sunday (12 noon – 6pm) & by appointment
Station Independent Projects. 164 Suffolk Street. NYC, NY 10002
art review by: Oscar A. Laluyan
Art images from Station Independent Projects courtesy of the artist
event photography by: Max Noy