21st Oct 2018
While Fashion Week’s SS19 shows are but a sweet memory as we head into winter, there’s one show that will last in our minds till next May. Marc Jacobs’ stunning collection of candy-coloured wonders made a huge impression on the fashion scene, and had publications around the world salivating over its over-the-top frills and sunset hues. But few know the origin of Jacobs’ inspiration – an Irish artist, whose works he fell in love with.
Genieve Figgis began life as a painter after she graduated from fine art in NCAD and began experimenting with acrylics and oils. Specialising in pools of colour and dream-like imagery, Figgis’ works are largely inspired by life in her native Wicklow – the scenic countryside, the religion, and our innate Irishness.
As her pieces became more refined, so too did her profile as an artist – she utilised social media, posting her works on Instagram and Twitter to find an audience.
As is often the way with emerging talent nowadays, Figgis’ social media presence paid off – Bill Powers, an artist prominent on the New York art scene, saw and loved her work and introduced her Stateside. This, she said, is how she first met Marc Jacobs.
“He wrote to me a few times and we had a chat about my paintings. He said that he loved my work and would like to buy a piece,” she said. But, like the rest of us, she had no idea what would emerge on the runway at NYFW. Jacobs’ sugary colour scheme and soft, flowing garments were starkly similar to her pieces, in particular, Pink Sky and Manet.
Jacobs said after the show that his collection was directly inspired by Figgis’ work. She was shocked: “I had no idea he was going to say I had a direct influence on his work. Having seen Marc Jacobs do incredible collaborations with Richard Prince and Murakami while at Louis Vuitton, I was so honoured that he found any inkling of inspiration in my paintings and thrilled that he had a chance to see my show in New York. Marc is a big John Currin collector, which makes it even more special to be a part of his personal collection.”
It helped that Figgis herself was a fan of the SS19 collection. “Fantastical, floating masterpieces,” she said. “I really enjoy the fact that he has a love of theatre and is unbound by the confines of the realistic. He’s also a kind supporter of women and is inclusive to all”.
After the success of the collection, I asked Figgis if her own work was enjoying more attention since. “Yes, definitely,” she said. “As with many things in life, it’s a cumulative process but I’m very happy for all the support I’ve received.”
So what’s next for Genieve Figgis? According to the artist, she’ll be taking her works even further afield. “I have just finished showing in New York and now Half Gallery is showing my work in a solo booth this week at FIAC Paris,” she explained. “In early 2019 I will have a show in Aspen at The Baldwin gallery.”
And closer to home, where can Irish fans find her work? “The Irish Arts Council recently acquired a painting for the collection so my work can now be seen in Ireland. Half Gallery and Almine Rech represent my work worldwide.”
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