Harmony in Three, with CARTIER

interview by EMMANUELLE PLANTIER

Three enchanting ambassadors have been selected to celebrate the centenary of CARTIER’S Trinity collection. Tom Eerebout, a maestro in style, himself embodies the audacious spirit of the Trinity Rings. Metasebia Plantefève-Castryck, a ballet dancer, evokes the ethereal grace that characterises every delicate facet. And Esmay Wagemans, a sculptor of dreams, reflects the visionary artistry that creates the timeless allure of the Trinity Rings.

Hello, Esmay. What sparked your passion for art, and at what point did you realize your calling as an artist?

For me, there has never been a specific moment when I realized I wanted to be an artist. I think for most artists, the creative energy you use to convert ideas into reality, is something that has always been part of you. I believe that your calling as an artist starts at the moment when you or your surroundings are able to provide you with the space, resources, and confidence to continue engaging in the creative activities you often already enjoyed before.

Could you describe your artistic style for us?

In three words I would say: uncanny, futuristic, sensitive.

pants and jacket CHRISTIAN DIOR
top OLIVIER THEYSKENS
shoes CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN
jewelry CARTIER

Could you share your insights on being featured in this exclusive editorial captured by DANIEL SARS for Numéro Nétherlands?

I always feel very honored for being featured, especially for features like these. I have been working with magazines from the beginning of my career. They have always supported me, which has been an important influence for my work. So being in front of the camera this time, working with a lovely team of creatives in the city where I live, was a really nice experience.

The presence of three devil-like female statues in your latest exhibition currently seen at the MEET Digital Center in Milan caught my attention. Could you elaborate on the significance of the number three in your work? Do you personally feel a connection to the concept of the three rings in the Trinity collection?

The three sculptures, called Emotional Intelligence, represent a fictional narrative on a human transition. For this project, different sculpture designs needed to support each other to be able to provide enough aesthetic context to convey the concept, without drawing too much attention to the literal differences between them. They all needed to add their individual value but also keep the unity and balance intact. The number of three allows me to use the designs as symbols that shape the perfect amount of context to tell a story. Three can’t be divided and will not illustrate your story by oversharing. To me, three is the best number to achieve harmony.

In addition to the sculptures in your exhibition, screens allowed the visitors to get digital art projected onto their faces. Was it important for you to get the public to interact with your work?

Having interaction included in my work has always been an important element. It’s not often visible for the audience in such a direct way like in this project, but there is definitely always a part hidden somewhere. Most of my projects arise from a question, statement or research around the body in relation to nowadays society. It’s very valuable for me to research these subjects by observing the real time feedback once the work gets interactive by implying it into society itself. Collaborating with artists from other disciplines plays a big role in that. In this project I collaborated with Inès Alpha who creates incredible digital work and brought the installation to a next level by adding augmented reality.

The Trinity Collection from Cartier shows how a timeless piece can be adapted endlessly, remaining relevant across eras. Do you have a favorite piece of yours that you continually reinterpret without getting bored?

Over the years, my view on repeatedly reusing or reinterpreting a design that gained popularity has really changed. I used to be scared of becoming dependent on a design and often thought that the choice of repeating a concept came from a place of fear of losing success. I believed repetition made you a victim of your own work. But after some time I discovered the strength of the accumulated context a design can achieve by being exposed to multiple experiences, eras or spirits of times. 

The design I approach as my signature work nowadays, is a piece that I avoided producing for a particular time. It’s a transparent wearable sculpture made out of a one piece material shaped with folds, which originally resulted from a technical error. It’s a very minimal design but has in a way a maximal outcome when it’s worn, because the body underneath it remains visible. The design is one of my favorite ones because it collected so many stories and was also one of the first works I created. I recently named the pieces “Originals” and I can’t wait to see what time will bring them next.

You recently created a series of resin sculptures in collaboration with Adidas, featuring wave-like 3D designs. Do you envision expanding your repertoire beyond focusing solely on the human body?

Speaking about embracing and celebrating signature designs, this piece has been created to centre the recurring texture I use in my work and put focus on the exploration of the engaging of light it can bring with it. I see this piece as an extension more than a work on its own. More like an experimental fragment of an existing piece. I really enjoyed the space it created to highlight a technique, so I can imagine using a new fragment of a different work some day. But in the end it shall always be linked back to the body.

Collaborating with artists like Cardi B, Solange, and Sevdaliza is a significant achievement. How does it feel to receive recognition from such prominent figures, particularly in an industry where art can sometimes remain niche, and its integration into mainstream culture isn’t always common?

I’m quite a down to earth person, so I always find it hard to find the right words for the excitement these collaborations bring with them. It obviously gives a very rewarding feeling when amazing artists like these reach out and I’m very aware and thankful for the accomplishments I’ve achieved by collaborating with them. But the feeling that is most valuable to me, is when there really is a conceptual connection between the artist and the work. I know an artist doesn’t just end up with a piece like the ones worn by aforementioned artists. These pieces are very specific for a lot of big artists as it’s not typical fashion and often provokes negativity from the mainstream. So when an artist reaches out, there is often already a specific or meaningful intention with the work. The idea that other creatives know where to find me among all the others for such specific intentions, is really amazing.

We’re exploring the theme of ‘Frenzy’ for our next print issue. How do you perceive this concept in relation to your work and artistic expression?

I had to look up the word ‘Frenzy’ as I never heard of it before. I should add it to my vocabulary as, after reading the definition, I can definitely say it’s a common state for me. But I wouldn’t say it resonates with my work in any way. I am always very conscious of not letting impulsive emotions determine or influence my work. In multiple ways, it never reaches a worthy outcome and only takes me further away from my goal. I need to create my work from a calm and harmonious state of mind to be able to achieve something that is valuable to me. The frenzies I leave for the music and dance sessions in my living room haha.

What kinds of projects do you envision undertaking in the future?

I would love to create some more time again to continue working on wearables. Besides that I’m currently also writing out a concept about the early female hunters and the relation between their bodies and tools. I’m really excited to work on that, and to explore how I can transform the findings into meaningful pieces that also find a connection with fashion and performance. 

3D sculpture ESMAY WAGEMANS
rings CARTIER

TEAM CREDITS:
talents ESMAY WAGEMANS, TOM EEREBOUT, & METASEBIA PLANTEFÈVE-CASTRYCK
photographer DANIEL SARS
stylist VINCENT VANLAEKEN
editor TIMOTEJ LETONJA
producer MARIE-PAULINE CESARI
make-up artist ANH NGUYAEN
hair Stylist XIU YUN YU
photograph assistant TIMOTHY HOENSON
stylist assistants LINDA SCHREITER & DIAMONIQUE OSEANA