ABSOLUT: The Start of Creativity

Posted on July 30, 2011

0


This article was originally written for MouthLondon magazine

World-renowned art may not be what immediately comes to mind when you consider the familiar ABSOLUT vodka brand, but ABSOLUT actually has a reputable history of creative collaborations. In 1985 Andy Warhol became the first artist commissioned to create a “portrait” of the brand’s iconic bottle and over the years ABSOLUT’s register of significant names has grown to include Damien Hirst and Louise Bourgeois. Now ABSOLUT has launched a new project, ABSOLUT BLANK, in which 18 artists have been given a 20ft high ABSOLUT-bottle-shaped blank canvas and asked to “fill it with creativity”.

Warhol didn’t drink ABSOLUT vodka preferring, apparently, to be inspired by its scent – he used it as cologne. I talked to some of the artists involved in the ABSOLUT BLANK project to find out how they were inspired by ABSOLUT.

LA-based David Kinsey is a designer and mixed media artist, his work attempts to “capture the universal essence of the human condition.” Kinsey cites ABSOLUT’s history of supporting the Arts as a big influence behind his ASBOLUT BLANK – a bold and absorbing mixed media work, which balances natural motifs with a vibrant, synthetic aesthetic. “They’ve worked with dozens of artists I admire like Warhol, Hirschfeld, Haring and Steadman,” Kinsey explained, “I grew up aware of many of these artists, so it’s cool that I can be a part of the next generation contributing to this ongoing campaign.”

And what about ABSOLUT vodka? “I’m very aware of the history of drinking and art making – who doesn’t like Jackson Pollack?” joked Kinsey. “My ABSOLUT work may or may not echo the relationship between libation and art – that’s for the viewer to decide… I approached it as a ‘personal project’.”

Working with the shape of the iconic bottle was one of the biggest challenges for the artists and designers involved. As Kinsey explained, “The blank shape implied context and content in and of itself before I’d even approached it.” London based design duo Good Wives and Warriors – comprised of former classmates Becky Bolton and Louis Chappell – described how they approached their ABSOLUT BLANK as a “design project”, rather than an artwork, which was how they interpreted the brief of the bottle format, scale and structure.

Good Wives and Warriors’ bottle is filled with intricate illustrations and bold patterns, typical of their imaginative large-scale wall drawings. They too were inspired by ABSOLUT’s past projects: “Our painting was both fun and ‘pop’ in colour and content, which in a way referenced the spirit of artists like Warhol and Haring.” But it was also the environment that the ABSOLUT project managed to create: “Quite a few of the artists worked with us in a huge empty wine store in Lisbon. It was an incredible space so that really helped us. It was great having the artists around as there was a real sense of camaraderie and enjoyment in the work we were producing.”

The differing artistic approaches of the 18 artists involved in ABSOLUT BLANK are reflected in the hugely diverse results. From Good Wives and Warriors’ graphic illustration, to United Visual Artists’ illuminating light installation and Tom Doyle’s wistful, 3D miniature world. Kinsey appreciates how the project reflects the “current state of popular contemporary art” and I have to agree – some truly unique and fascinating works have been created off the back of ABSOLUT: “the start of creativity”.

View all the artworks in the online gallery.

Preview the ABSOLUT BLANK film:

Advertisements
Posted in: Feature, Interview