Big Picture: Kimono – Unwrapping A Living ThingVIEW EVENT DETAILS
A Conversation with Fashion Designer Kazu Huggler and Artist Countess Setsuko Klossowska de Rola
Image: Kazu Huggler, TAN Collection, YURI Jumpsuit, Before and After © Christian Schnur
The kimono is the ultimate signifier of Japan. Within the country, it embodies the essence of national culture and sensibility, and globally the wrapped-front garment sparks an alluring, exotic fascination. It's a symbol – and as such perceived as a timeless icon but also a static one.
At this Big Picture: Kimono – Unwrapping A Living Thing, we celebrate the kimono's dynamic and fashionable nature, acknowledging its inherent purpose (and literal translation) as "a thing to wear". Together with the Swiss-Japanese fashion designer Kazu Huggler and 2005 UNESCO peace artist Countess Setsuko Klossowska de Rola – famously known as wearing exclusively kimono –, we explore the aesthetics and textile art of Japan.
In her practice, Kazu often reuses old kimono, removing the seams, which leaves her with the original fabric panels to work with. How does the essence of the kimono translate into her contemporary designs, anchored both in Japan and Switzerland? How does nature act as both a source of inspiration and material to work with? What statement does wearing a kimono today make? And what stories do the different designs tell about Japan's society – historically and today?
Join us for a kimono show, displaying kimono in both historical and contemporary contexts. In conversation with Aurelia Rauch, they will talk about what clothing means to them, how beauty arises from harmony, and how to fashion an exquisite balance between the rich historical heritage of Japanese silk fabrics and the ever-evolving trends of the contemporary fashion landscape.
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.