It starts and ends with theatrical effects. You enter into a darkened room with stars running around, reflected from the nightclub silver glitterball at the centre, from which you move through a wardrobe straight from “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” into a magical “Wanderland”, and you end with a digitally-projected building façade from which you exit back into the real world of the Saatchi Galley and springtime in the King’s Road in London.
In between you tale on the role of the Flâneur, a voyeuristic city stroller or dandy, because, according to artistic director Pierre-Alexis Dumas; “that wonderfully liberating art of urban wandering is second nature to Hermès, one could even say our most profound nature”. The walking canes that are a key accessory of a dandy are a recurrent theme.
Hermes, as an Olympian god, is the son of Zeus, He is a god of transitions and boundaries; he is quick and cunning and moves freely between the worlds of the mortal and divine, as emissary and messenger of the gods, and Hermès’ 2015 exhibition reinforces the moves between these worlds, starting in London before moving to Paris in September and Milan in December.
“Somebody who dreams a lot, somebody who is able to see not just the essential but other things,” (Hubert le Gall describes the Flâneur).
Curated by Bruno Gaduichon, the exhibition takes you through a Wanderland of rooms with sets designed by Hubert le Gall using a variety of media, involving eight artists and featuring objects from Hermès’ archive and collections. You are in an “Alice of Wonderland” experience set in 19th century Paris, as is appropriate to Hermès’,
The world is turned upside down in the scene of a Parisian city square, a cafe is deserted, a shopping arcade has a large grey elephant stepping carefully over blue and white china and street art brings Hermès’ into the contemporary art of the 21st century.
An exhibition worth seeing not only for the beautiful and historic items from Hermes’ collection, for which sometimes you have to look, but for an innovative and artistic example of exhibition design which takes you into a new imaginary world.