With a Beachfront Gallery for Artist Sho Shibuya’s Sunrise Paintings, Saint Laurent Rive Droite Makes a Splash in Miami

Commissioned by creative director Anthony Vaccarello for Art Basel, the show honors the 55th anniversary of Saint Laurent’s first Rive Gauche store.

The Saint Laurent Rive Droite gallery at Art Basel in Miami Beach. Courtesy of Saint Laurent.

To celebrate the comeback of Art Basel Miami Beach—which, after almost two years of cancellations and postponements, officially opens today—Saint Laurent Rive Droite has mounted an ephemeral gallery in the center of the Magic City (until December 5, 2021). Inside the space—a pink-and-red cube set on the beach at 17th Street, practically glowing against the backdrop of ocean and sky—you’ll find an exhibition of works by Japanese artist Sho Shibuya, commissioned by Saint Laurent creative director Anthony Vaccarello.

Shibuya has gained widespread attention for his series of daily paintings, “Sunrise from a Small Window,” created from his Brooklyn apartment over the last 22 months. Using the front page of the New York Times as a canvas, he has ritualistically painted the hues of each morning’s sunrise directly onto the day’s paper, covering the often-downtrodden news with an ever-changing symbol of revival and hope.

“​​This series started as a reflection on the COVID lockdowns in 2020,” Shibuya said. “I was overwhelmed by the news. I found peace through the practice of painting the sunrise every day.” 

Artist Sho Shibuya covers the front page of<em> The New York Times</em> with paintings of the morning sunrise. <br>Courtesy of Saint Laurent Rive Droite.</br>

Artist Sho Shibuya covers the front page of the daily New York Times with paintings of the morning sunrise.
Courtesy of Saint Laurent.

Shibuya’s personal “chronicle of the morning light” has come to take on a broader cultural significance. “Now, I am determined to record the sky every day over all the news we suffer through,” he said. “I feel it’s important when we don’t know if we can see the same beautiful sight in the future, due to the climate change. We are changing; so is nature. This series captures that change.” 

Entitled “55 Sunrises,” with its opening hours from “sunrise to sunset,” the exhibition is the first time that the artist’s works from the series have been showcased publicly together. Mounted about a foot apart from one another in identical white frames, they appear to float in a seamless, wave-like succession, each like a portal into another realm.

Ordered chronologically between August 14, 2020 and August 21, 2021, the exhibition serves as a poignant visual record of a rather chaotic time through the lens of Shibuya’s calming color gradients. “[It] was also a year with so much turmoil—the election, [socio]political events, the pandemic—but what I learned is that it’s important to appreciate beauty and happiness in ordinarily life,” he said. 

The gallery opens onto the beach. Courtesy of Saint Laurent.

Shibuya’s hypnotic interpretations of the morning skies recall the works of Mark Rothko—they are meant to be felt, not merely seen. On particularly eventful days, the artist chose to leave the headlines exposed rather than painted over. Walking through the space and catching these rare instances of text immediately transports viewers back to a number of pivotal moments that have now been cemented in our history.

The gallery continues Saint Laurent’s long artistic legacy, which dates back to the fashion house’s early years, when Jeanloup Sieff famously photographed a young Yves Saint Laurent nude. (More recently, on the occasion of Paris Photo 2021, Vaccarello staged exhibitions of Sieff’s works at the Saint Laurent Rive Droite stores in Paris and Los Angeles, through December 7, 2021.)

“55 Sunrises” also honors the 55th anniversary of the fashion house’s very first Rive Gauche ready-to-wear boutique, which opened on Paris’s right bank in 1966. 

Shibuya created two new works for Saint Laurent Rive Droite.
Courtesy of Saint Laurent.

“​​That was the first time a great couturier opened a ready-to-wear store—an iconic moment in fashion history,” Shibuya said. “Yves Saint Laurent said, ‘Fashion would be a sad business if all it did was put clothes on rich women.’ That resonated with me.”

The artist created two new works in homage to this history, inspired by the original Rive Droite logo. I noticed how the two squares were like windows, with bright, colorful light peeking through. It felt, to me, like an anchor.” He aimed to capture “the optimistic color palette of 1966 and the universal experience of a sunrise, with all the hope that brings.”

After Miami Art Week concludes, the exhibition is set to rise again at the Saint Laurent Rive Droite stores in Paris and Los Angeles, where Shibuya’s works will be available for purchase.

“55 Sunrises” is on view beachfront at 17th Street in Miami Beach, Florida, November 30–December 5, 2021.

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