‘Cash and Carrier’: Victoriano declares brands the new royalty, religion

Spanish graffiti artist Victoriano took over the sprawling space of California Tower’s airy Loft22 to present ‘Cash and Carrier’ from November 21-22, offering his creative observation of the power of luxury brands.

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HONG KONG ART 

Spanish graffiti artist Victoriano took over the sprawling space of California Tower’s airy Loft 22 to present ‘Cash & Carrier’ from November 21-22, offering his creative observation of the power of luxury brands. The exhibition relates the contemporary treatment of brands to artworks by the Old Masters, which traditionally depicted the most revered topics of the day– usually royalty or religion. The show offers Victoriano’s stoic observation of a world in which the power of the brand is absolute.

Victoriano 'Cash & Carrier'
‘Cash & Carrier’ by Victoriano. Author’s photo.
Victoriano 'Carrier'
‘Carrier’ on display at ‘Cash & Carrier’ in Hong Kong by Victoriano. Author’s photo.

‘Prada-ism’

With a self-professed obsession with luxury iconography, Victoriano contemplates brands’ imagery and status, ‘hijacking’ their elite character and reflecting upon their meaning in culture. ‘Cash & Carrier’ embodies the artist’s response to ‘Brandalism,’ the critical subversion of corporate messaging popularized by Banksy and Shepard Fairey. Rather than continuing the hackneyed dialogue of overtly negative associations with branding begun in the 2000’s, Victoriano positively appropriates the carefully crafted character of the world’s most elite luxury brands. In a practice he calls ‘Uppertising’ or ‘Prada-ism,’ he lends brands’ elite qualities to himself to bring awareness to broader social behaviors. Victoriano’s work playfully imitates the common act of brand appropriation, which  usurps a brand’s character to enhance a user, and explores notions of transforming a branded artifact (for instance, the shopping ‘carrier’ from a purchase) into the actual object of desire. When it comes to wearing luxury brands in contemporary society, Victoriano reminds us that we are all appropriators.

No5 Orange
‘No5 Orange’ by Victoriano. Author’s photo.
Condensed Perfume
‘Condensed Perfume’ by Victoriano, on show at ‘Cash & Carrier’. Author’s photo.
Victoriano 'Christian'
‘Christian on the Cross’ by Victoriano. Author’s photo.

Graffitist and luxury creative 

Victoriano is an artist who stands resolutely in two worlds; he is an illicit graffiti painter since his teenage years, yet also a former art director for luxury brands whose past clients include Louis Vuitton, DKNY, and Kenzo. Indeed, he seems uniquely qualified to comment on the contemporary use and meaning of luxury iconography. Instead of expressing criticism of brands, Victoriano’s work exudes awe of the achievements of the world’s haute design houses. To Victoriano, high brands have achieved the ultimate position as aspirational, cult-like deities of our day, and their appropriation is so insidious we don’t even see what’s in plain sight.

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