A homage to craftmanship – IN CONVERSATION WITH Louis Barthélemy
Words AICHA PILMEYER
Oribe introduces: “Eternal Rituals”, the Holiday 2023 Collection in collaboration with artist Louis Barthélemy. Combining their shared values of commitment to design and craftsmanship, Louis created artworks for Oribe that spark a conversation with traditional crafts and mystical rituals to celebrate the importance of craftsmanship. Inspired by ancient Egypt, Louis has created three vertical artworks that are reminiscent of papyrus scrolls. They portray a long-haired goddess whose hair flows upward like the Nile, with characters tending to her hair, celebrating the timeless daily ritual of self-care through haircare.
When asked how he describes his art Louis states the following: “Through my predominantly figurative work, I weave narratives designed to foster a sense of connection among people, transcending cultural and geographical boundaries by addressing universal themes that resonate with humanity.” We had the privilege of speaking with Louis to delve deeper into the meaning behind his work.
A: When reading about you, intuition is a word I am seeing back continuously. Can you describe what it means to you, and how you stay true to it?
L: Intuition, for me, leads to trust in humanity. It’s the belief that mutual respect and open dialogue foster kindness. The words of Immanuel Kant resonate with me: “The moral law within me.” Intuition aligns with this philosophy, guiding both my art and my belief in human connections.
A: Living between Cairo, Marrakesh, and Paris, how has the geographical diversity of these locations influenced your artistic style and the themes explored in your work?
L: Living between these cities has profoundly influenced my artistic style and the themes I explore in my work. The geographical diversity of these locations has acted as a prism through which I see the world, shifting the narrative and broadening my artistic horizons.
Coming from France, I initially had a particular perspective, but living in these diverse cities has allowed me to embrace a decentralized worldview. It has inspired me to dive into new cultural influences, connect with different people, and explore more global themes. This dynamic interplay between cultures and geographies has become integral to my creative process, enriching my work with a deeper and more inclusive perspective.
A: How do you hope your art promotes a more inclusive and open-minded perspective, particularly in a world where cultural differences are sometimes a source of tension?
L: My work is a celebration of the rich tapestry of cultures, particularly in North Africa, and I believe that by showcasing the beauty of diverse traditions, we can break down barriers and foster understanding. Art has a unique power to transcend language and engage people on a deeper level. It allows viewers to connect with the stories, symbols, and emotions embedded in my work, regardless of their background.
By intertwining ancient crafts with contemporary artistic expression, I hope to bridge the gap between cultures by encouraging dialogue and appreciation for the values and creativity that unite us. In this way, my art serves as a medium for building bridges of understanding in a world that sorely needs it.
A: How did you take inspiration from Oribe Canales’ glamour and spirit, and what led to the fusion of these influences with the art of ancient Egypt?
L: Incorporating the art of ancient Egypt into my work for Oribe emphasizes the vital role hairstyling played in the lives of ancient Egyptians. Haircare and styling held immense importance in their culture, reflecting their values, social status, and aesthetics. From elaborate headdresses to symbolic hairstyles, the ancient Egyptians’ attention to hair highlighted its significance in their daily lives, rituals, and self-expression. This connection between hairstyling and culture adds depth to my artistic exploration, underscoring the profound history and tradition that continues to influence contemporary beauty and fashion.
The two worlds seamlessly converged as I embraced Oribe Canales’s contemporary glamour with the timeless symbolism of Egypt. The result is a collection that resonates with the spirit of individuality, elegance, and enduring beauty. The union of these influences allowed me to craft an artwork that tells a story transcending eras, connecting the contemporary world with the ancient past.
A: The collection title is Eternal Rituals, do you have any rituals when creating your work, if so what do they mean to you?
L: My primary ritual is the close collaboration with craftspeople in North Africa who are dedicated to preserving and passing on ancient crafts.
These collaborations, in themselves, are a form of ritual. They signify the timeless traditions and expertise of these artisans. Each stitch, each woven pattern, and every moment spent in their company is a homage to the enduring legacy of these crafts. My work is a bridge between their timeless practices and contemporary art, encapsulating the essence of these eternal rituals
A: In your artwork, there are numerous symbols and references to ancient Egyptian gods. What inspired your choice to depict them, and what aspects of these deities fascinate you?
L: The presence of symbols and references to ancient Egyptian gods in my artwork is a deliberate choice driven by a deep fascination with the rich tapestry of Egyptian mythology. Each deity embodies unique qualities and attributes that resonate with me and the art of hair care. For instance, the solar disk symbolizes life and energy, Sobek represents strength and growth, Hathor signifies love and femininity, Khnum is a symbol of creation, and Thoth embodies wisdom and knowledge.
A: It is great to see Oribe and your artwork coming together to embrace craftsmanship in such a colorful way, especially at a time when the essence of craftsmanship seems to have slipped away amidst the rise of industrialization. How do you think other brands can interact with craftsmanship more?
L: I believe other brands can embrace craftsmanship by forging authentic connections with artisans and creators, valuing their skills, and highlighting the human touch in their products. By incorporating craftsmanship into their narratives and products, brands can create a unique identity and support the preservation of these invaluable traditions, ultimately adding depth and authenticity to their offerings. It’s a win-win for both the brands and the world of craftsmanship.