The designs of Jean Paul Gaultier often straddle the seemingly divergent worlds of haute couture and street fashion. To
illustrate the profound influence of the street’s wild style on Gaultier’s designs, the museum commissioned San Francisco based
artist Rio Yañez to create a 65-foot long graffiti mural, which will serve as the backdrop for the
Punk Cancan section of the exhibition.
The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk
opens March 24 at the de Young.
A native of San Francisco’s vibrant Mission District, Rio Yañez is a curator, photographer and graphic artist. Drawing on influences ranging from comic books to religion to his friends to his own Chicano heritage, Yañez’s work is infused with the beat of popular street culture.
To create the mural for The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier, Yañez called on fellow artists Miguel “Bounce” Perez and Susie Lundy. Together, they created an original, multimedia mural that brings the world of Jean Paul Gaultier to the streets of San Francisco.
Graffiti artist Bounce provided his spray-painting skills, while artist and dancer Susie Lundy brought her mural techniques to the endeavor, with Yañez pasting up his characters throughout the composition.
Over the course of five days, the three artists worked together outside, on the street. The team began building up the surface of the 17 faux brick panels with tags (short words or sayings written in a graphic, graffiti style) and small paste-ups (graphic images glued to the wall).
Once that foundation was laid, the entire surface was gessoed and larger elements were implemented. Lundy—who also appeared in last year’s groundbreaking Artist Fellows performance Block by Block —has an academic background in world arts and cultures, which can be seen in her use of images inspired by Buddhist spiritualism.
Yañez, known for his re-imaginings of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, incorporated two punk versions of the pop icon. Kahlo is a key point of inspiration for Jean Paul Gaultier as well.
Yañez also incorporated paste-up images of his favorite dinosaur, the liopleurodone, dressed in Gaultier’s signature stripes. This playful integration of wide ranging influences is definitive of both street art and Gaultier’s design aesthetic.
Working in the frenzied and freeform format characteristic of street art, Yañez, Lundy and Bounce produced a vibrant image of the street that is at home both in the urban jungle and the exhibition hall.
Come see this street art go from the sidewalk to the catwalk at The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier, on view from March 24–August 19.