Did You Know A Shopping Bag Can Also Be A Sculpture?
An insight into how the artist is revolutionising iconic bags by fusing them with ordinary objects
Fred Allard is a French iconoclastic artist who is famous for creating sculptures, including the signature ‘Shopping Bag’ that showcases his unique sense of contemporary art expression. Post the pandemic, if you find yourself walking down Bond Street in London, be sure to see one of his collections at Galerie Bartoux. Fred, who is currently working out of his workshop in the South of France, is fond of artists like Basquiat and Daniel Arsham and is revolutionising the collision of art and fashion by juxtaposing consumer goods and luxury fashion. Prior to creating his iconic bag sculptures, he started his artistic journey in the 1980s by painting contemporary art. He derived his inspiration from the shape-shifting movement of the Nice School, made famous by César and his compressions, and the inclusions of Arman. His works soon became collectors’ items that reflect his signature Punk Paradise aesthetic.
Fred Allard’s work is all about tapping into the human psychology and its materialistic addictions that influences aspirational consumption. Fred aims to blend everyday items like cans or lollipops with luxury bag design through his artworks, which he then artistically turns into timeless sculptures. He explains, “I explore varied worlds of expression by working with mundane objects and packaging material that have become widely embraced symbols of our consumer society. Each one inspires me in a different way, and by freeze-framing these ephemeral objects in time, I give them eternal existence. The result is a series of portraits that encapsulate our times.”
Most of the times, what may seem like trash or a dull object to a consumer, to Fred, becomes a source of inspiration that he fuses with iconic bags. It could then be anything from a cola can, a paper bag to a skateboard or a perfume bottle. By choosing a ‘bag’ as the iconic object around which his collections are built, he subverts a symbolic object by giving it transparency that questions its purpose and imbues it with a creative force heavily influenced by Pop Culture. The result is an irreverent mash-up of genres that breaks all the rules to draw contrasting worlds together.
One sure-shot way of recognising a Fred Allard sculpture is by paying attention to its technique, which known as inclusion. When we asked him to briefly describe this, he responded by saying, “I compose and sculpt my pieces by compressing iconic products before immobilising them forever in resin inclusions.” He has developed and refined this unique craft-based technique in a family studio near Nice, where he now shares his expertise with students and fellow artists as well.
On his upcoming VIDE TON SAC (EMPTY YOUR BAG) collection, Fred is collaborating with high-profile individuals with shared values to create one-of-a-kind sculptures. He invited iconic celebrities, cities and institutions to reveal something about themselves by disclosing iconic objects that they believe characterise their identity. Following their response, he created a uniquely intimate relationship between the object and art, which is magically being translated into sculptural pieces.
Photographs: Courtesy of Fred Allard