Big Picture: 'I Chose a Blue Kimono to Harmonize With the Beautiful Lake Zurich'
A Conversation with Fashion Designer Kazu Huggler and Artist Countess Setsuko Klossowska de Rola
ZURICH, OCTOBER 5, 2023 – The kimono is the ultimate signifier of Japan. At this Big Picture, we celebrate the kimono's dynamic and fashionable nature, acknowledging its inherent purpose (and literal translation) as "a thing to wear".
2005 UNESCO peace artist Countess Setsuko Klossowska de Rola embodies this essence: she is famously known for exclusively wearing kimonos. Swiss-Japanese fashion designer Kazu Huggler also interacts with kimonos on a daily basis: she transforms vintage kimonos into stunning, contemporary designs by removing the seams and stitching the original fabrics back together.
In conversation with Aurelia Rauch, they explore the kimono's rich historical heritage, traditions, and cultural significance in modern Japan and share their appreciation for Japan's delicate textile art.
Countess Setsuko Klossowska de Rola, a Japanese painter, ceramicist, and writer, was born in Tokyo in 1942. She attended the Jesuit-run Sophia University in Tokyo, learning about Eastern and Western cultures, from Japanese calligraphy and Noh theatre to European literature and ballet. It was during her time at Sophia University that she met her future husband, the French painter Balthasar Klossowski de Rola (Balthus). In 1962, Setsuko relocated to Rome and began her artistic journey while actively supporting Balthus in his role as director of the French Academy in Rome, the Villa Medici.
In 1979, Setsuko held her first solo exhibition at Galleria Il Gabbiano, Rome, later showing among others at Pierre Matisse Gallery in New York, the Lefevre Gallery in London and at Gagosian in Gstaad during the summer of 2023. Her work is included in institutional collections such as that of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. In 2005, she was designated UNESCO's Artist for Peace for her ongoing promotion of education, intercultural dialogue, and the preservation of global heritage. She resides in Switzerland and France.
Photo credit: Courtesy the Artist
Aurelia Rauch received her Magistra Artium in Art History at the University of Münster in 2010, after her training in museum education at the Kunsthalle Bielefeld and the Kunstmuseum Pablo Picasso Münster. Until 2018, she lived and worked in New York City and played an important role in New York's vibrant contemporary art scene, alongside her work in commercial and non-profit art organizations. Most recently she worked as Creative Director at Sperone Westwater on projects with artists such as Bruce Nauman, Susan Rothenberg, Richard Long, Tom Sachs and Ali Banisadr. Since 2018, Aurelia has been the Head of Communications at Bergos, and Senior Consultant, Bergos Art Consult. Bergos is a Corporate Partner of Asia Society Switzerland.
About Big Picture
Big Picture is a quarter-annual, public event series where we celebrate art in all its forms and shapes: Be it food, movies, museums, or literature. We invite artists, curators, and experts to talk about their practices and how these can help shed light on the world we live in. These talks are designed to further the dialogue and exchange across disciplines and regions and to travel beyond the events.
Big Picture is made possible with the support of Bergos.
This Big Picture event is hosted in cooperation with the Museum Rietberg.