March 10, 2017

With Art Basel Hong Kong around the corner, On Pedder was fortunate to catch up with famed curator, art advisor, author and fearless fashionista Maria Brito. Find out what this contemporary art expert has to say about the continuous love affair between art and fashion.

Do you think contemporary art influences fashion today? If so, how?

Absolutely. Fashion designers are looking at contemporary artists all the time and either taking from them directly or collaborating. Fashion is amazing, a fantasy and a dream, but I know for a fact that designers and brands look at artists first. I remember when Jason Wu said a few years ago that he launched an entire collection inspired by Brazilian artist Beatriz Milhazes. Marc Jacobs has been collecting art for about 12 years, he is a pioneer of the high-end collaborations, like what he did with Richard Prince and then Yayoi Kusama while he was the creative director of Louis Vuitton. That is the type of obsession that fashion gets from contemporary art.


Currently who are your 3 favourite artists and why?

 This is super impossible to answer because my job is cemented on art and artists. There are many blue-chip, mid-career and young artists I love.  On the younger/emerging spectrum: Nina Chanel Abney, Austin Lee, Mira Dancy, Katherine Bernhardt, Trudy Benson, Michael Dotson, Jamian Juliano-Vilani…. these are all artists who are using their brushes to paint reality, a reality that looks political, feminist, crazy, fun, intense, digital, dynamic and very prescient. 

How do you define your fashion style? Which designer speaks to you and why?

 I’m eclectic, fun, colorful, sometimes boho sometimes rock n’ roll. At times I go for all black but with lots of textures, other times it is a carnival-rainbow of sorts. I have created my own voice through fashion, I try to make every outfit my own, I carry the clothes, not the other way around. I’m not a slave to labels or brand names. I do love quality and craftsmanship, European finishes and fabrics, but I’m also very cost-conscious and I’m 200% more inclined to buy amazing art first and then clothes. That said, I do love fashion and think it is a pretty big part of my world. I love Isabel Marant because honestly, who doesn’t want to look like a left bank Parisian long-legged girl? I mean, Marant has had many, many hits throughout the years, from the coolest sneakers to space-inspired silver jumpsuits, I always find myself with many of her pieces in my closet every season. I love what Alessandro has done with Gucci in the past two seasons, to fully reinvent an iconic and traditional label with so many sequins and embroideries is such an accomplishment. Mugler, Anthony Vaccarello and Saint Laurent are also faves of mine, that ability to cut clothes in such sexy yet elevated way is a gift.

What do you think of designers like Sophia Webster who aren’t afraid to play when creating styles?

I think they keep the fashion wheel turning. We need designers like that all the time! Otherwise fashion would be stale…


What are your thoughts on art coming out of China/ or Asia?

 There’s a buoyant and vibrant art community all across Asia with so many artists tackling issues that are political and of the moment.  So many, on the other hand are reinventing manga, super flat, chinoiserie and many traditional and regional aspects that have become quintessential to Asian art.

Do you have any must-see artists/ pieces / galleries for those attending Art Basel HK 2017?

 Lehmann Maupin will have a special Kabinett section within their booth showcasing the work of the fantastic Brazilian duo Os Gemeos, this is the first time Os Gemeos do this type of focused section in Art Basel and it will include four amazing paintings whose main focus will be water and its vital relationship to life. Paul Kasmin Gallery will have a neon chair by Ivan Navarro, one of my favorite artists, the piece is inspired by the classic design of the Dutch Garrit Rietveld, but all made with bulbs and lights! Beyond!

What are your most memorable experiences attending Art Basel HK?

 Yes! Art Basel Hong Kong was such a fascinating experience. I loved getting to see so many Asian galleries, many known and several new to me. I loved discovering new artists, going to so many great art events and openings. I have such fond memories of Yoshitomo Nara’s show at the gorgeous building of the Asia Society inside that lush forest and an amazing brunch at Duddell’s surrounded by the coolest art exhibition. Hong Kong is such a fascinating and vibrant city, all those lights, vertical lifestyle; everything is looking up, much more than New York. Definitely worth the very long trip!


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Art Basel Hong Kong 23rd – 25th March, 2017

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