La Prairie’s latest partnership with Art Basel in Hong Kong last month saw the creation of three specially commissioned works by artist Chul-Hyun Ahn, all of which meditate on the meaning of light
When La Prairie initially approached South Korean Chul-Hyun Ahn to collaborate with the brand for an installation at this year’s Art Basel in Hong Kong, the artist wasn’t too familiar with the Swiss skincare line –but then again, he’s probably not the target customer. “I didn’t know about La Prairie products,”he admits,”so I was searching on the Internet, and it turns out it was quite a global company!
“When I logged onto their website, they have products, but also a lot of other content –culture, science. So actually I was impressed. And then we agreed to do the collaboration and they sent me La Prairie samples and I brought them home, and my wife was thrilled.”
What was also attractive to the artist was the carte blanche he was given, and the themes: light, colour and reflection, three topics that are already central to his practice. “It was perfectly matched,”says Ahn. “They use light for their best interests, which is to increase and make the natural beauty of skin last longer. I use light to help my concepts become artwork. So we have a common interest, using the same material.”
La Prairie has spent the last five years decoding the science behind light, upgrading the science behind its White Caviar collection so that it not only increases brightness and decreases pigmentation, but also improves luminosity. Explains Dr. Daniel Stangl, the brand’s director of innovation, “We had to think, what does luminosity mean? What are the factors influence luminosity? This has to do with light, and when we are talking about light, we have to think about how light is really dealing with our skin. As a result we came up with the equation of light.”
In essence, when your skin is pigmented –touched by the brown of UV damage, grey from pollution, red from inflammation and yellow from oxidative stress –it doesn’t reflect light. The solution, then, to bringing forth this light, is to erase the offending colour spectrum. In the White Caviar product line, this is done via key ingredients such as Lumidose. “Lumidose decreases the amount of the pigment melanin, the less pigments you have, the less light is absorbed, the more light is left for being reflected, which is a very simple principle. You also need reflection from the surface, but reducing pigments is a key pillar,”says Dr. Stangl.
Ahn, in turn, uses light rather to pose questions that are as timeless as the quest for eternal youth and beauty. “I am using my materials –mirrors and the light –to try to decode my question, my equation, trying to make infinite space and talk about emptiness and physical travelling versus spiritual travelling,”Ahn says.
In many ways, Ahn’s perspective adds another dimension to the relationship that exists between art and beauty. “When people are looking at my art, they’re appreciating it and searching for their own space and perspective to experience art and beauty,”he explains.
Art, after all, pervades all parts of the world of beauty, even those most technical. He may be a man of science, but there is art yet in Dr. Stangl’s concepts, and, indeed, his words: “There are many contact points between art and science. Scientists must be very curious; scientists try to be creative in the way that they link facts together which no one else has thought about, that open a new view of biological systems, for example. Art can open your eyes to give you a new view on something that is common. Art is also something that communicates with you, brings something which is inherently in you, out. Art may help to see the world in a different way, and that’s what we do as well, we want a new view of the skin. But it’s the same attitude: curiosity, and coming up with surprising new solutions.”
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