‘I Needed a Wider Spectrum With Total Freedom’: Ex-Fashion Designer Martin Margiela Has Just Gained Worldwide Gallery Representation

Zeno X gallery will debut his artworks at FIAC art fair next month.

A sneak peek of an artwork. Copyright Martin Margiela and courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.

The celebrated former fashion designer Martin Margiela is officially putting down roots in the art world.

More than a decade after privately shifting his focus from avant-garde fashion to making art, Margiela has announced that he is ready to present his work to an eagerly awaiting public, and he has signed on to be represented by Antwerp-based gallery Zeno X.

The news of this exclusive, worldwide representation comes just weeks before his highly anticipated show at Lafayette Anticipations in Paris, which opens on October 20, during FIAC week.

Zeno X will present three new sculptural pieces by the artist at the art fair in parallel with the exhibition. The gallery told Artnet News that prices for the works will range between €10,000 and €60,000 ($11,500 and $69,500).

“Very early in my life I became obsessed with fashion and developed my own vision by presenting it in the most conceptual way possible,” Margiela told Artnet News in a statement. “After many years, the human body as my only medium felt too narrow and the system became suffocating. I needed a wider spectrum with total freedom in creative expression, and rediscovered my roots as a young boy in art school, enjoying pure creation without boundaries. Today I am proud to see my work recognized.” His first solo exhibition in Belgium will be presented in spring 2022.

A sneak peek of an artwork. Copyright Martin Margiela and courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.

A sneak peek of an artwork. Copyright Martin Margiela and courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.

The solo exhibition at Lafayette Anticipations, which has been framed as a “total artwork,” was initially set to open in April but was postponed due to lockdowns. Now slated for October, the show will bring together more than 40 previously unseen artworks. In true Margiela style—the fashion house is known as fashion’s most secretive brand—little more has been revealed about what to expect, but, according to the institution’s statement on the show, art on view will span the breadth of his practice, which ranges from painting and sculpture to film and installation.

Unsurprisingly, given his seasoned career working in fashion, the human figure is one of his points for departure in his work—including more granular details, like skin and hair. A deodorant stick with a collaged label is the lone work that has been shared from the exhibition thus far. His work will likely follow his focus in fashion, which includes a sensibility to materials and overlooked details, as well as surprising subversions and twists.

Frank Demaegd, founder of Zeno X, told Artnet News that he is excited to be a part of this new chapter in Margiela’s artistic career. “When I first saw Martin Margiela’s work, I instantly recognized that all of the themes he pursues are very personal. He approaches his subjects with an incredible sense of perfection, both in his paintings and sculptures as well as in his installations,” he said. “We are thrilled to work with someone who has completely transformed the fashion world and who has now developed a very distinctive voice in the world of the visual arts as well.”

Despite the relatively recent venture into art, Margiela is no newcomer to the museum world. During his fashion career, which he launched when founded his label in 1988, his designs have been exhibited in several museums, including the BOZAR in Brussels, the Haus der Kunst in Munich, and LACMA in Los Angeles.

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