Benjamin Shine

Nov 15, 2018 9:01AM

Benjamin is a British artist and designer, a true genius who works in an absolutely unique technique, whose works are held in numerous public and private collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Benjamin Shine has taken on world leaders, immortalizing Margaret Thatcher in silk woven through rusted iron in 2006. A portrait of Barack Obama, called “Changing States” was made from strips of an American flag and was unveiled on Inauguration Day in 2009 at the New York Museum of Arts and Design. It was then picked up by Barnes and Noble bookstores as the official commemorative image on items from puzzles to books.

He’s also created some campier, Warhol-ier, more mainstream pieces - portraits of Princess Diana and Elizabeth Taylor and, in fact, Andy Warhol. The Elizabeth Taylor portrait now hangs at the bar at Grace Belgravia, a private women’s health and lifestyle club in London, and a portrait of Princess Charlene of Monaco, which was debuted at the Oceanographic Museum, is now exhibited at Monaco's Barclays Building.

In 2017 he realized a five piece installation in the windows of New York’s Bergdorf Goodman department store, using his signature material — tulle.  

Benjamin has also collaborated with Givenchy and John Galliano bringing together art and Haute Couture. Givenchy's creative director Riccardo Tisci has chosen Benjamin Shine to create his new Art-collection.  

Following the high profile reveal of Benjamin Shine's collaborative work with fashion designer John Galliano for Maison Margiela couture SS17 at Paris Fashion Week in January, the haunting tulle face he created has graced the pages of magazines around the world. Fuelled by words of enchantment and wonder from the fashion industry’s top critics, the look defined by Benjamin’s flowing tulle design has become instantly iconic and is widely recognised as a pivotal moment for the ever-evolving relationship between contemporary art and fashion design.

Showcased over-top of an all-white trench, the mesh material then wraps around the model, as you can see the aforementioned portrait front and center, staring just off to the side.

“I wanted to see if the face could become completely transparent, like smoke engulfing the body with the coat still visible and moving beneath it,” Shine says. “I particularly loved the idea of the tulle flowing from its functional role as the lining of the coat, into the ethereal image.”

While the glaring creation took Shine and Galliano more than 300 hours to execute, the final result is nothing short of captivating.

Tulles Portraits Series depict abstracted faces, formed from the folds of a single length of tulle, whcih becomes a great material for creating amazing realistic “paintings". These portraits are very detailed, constructed from the folds of hand-manipulated tulle fabric, and also without any paint or drawing involved. Framed in a glass box.   Each of the artworks is created by manipulating a single length of lightweight, fine netted tulle to fabricate carefully-formed faces and figures.  

Using an iron, Shine sculpts, presses and pleats the huge single piece of tulle, whose transparent qualities give the portrait more texture and depth. By layering in this way, the artist obtains different tones and shadows that enable him to realistically portray iconic stars like Elizabeth Taylor, elegant abstract faces and other things, such as a pair of elderly hands.

“The idea of ‘painting with fabric’ led to the development of this technique where the portrait image is created through the intricate pleating and pressing of a single length of tulle fabric. The technique aims to utilize the translucent qualities of the tulle fabric to generate various gradients, tones and textures,” – Shine said of his works of art.