On Jan. 5, 2019, HRY Group was pleased to announce a global release of the collaboration between Daniel Arsham and National Treasure, a TV program showcasing precious Chinese antiquities. Arsham reinterpreted Changxin Palace Lantern and launched an art project to share an important part of Chinese history with the global audience.

The first collectible from the series is a limited edition collaboration tee, officially released via National Treasure’s official Tmall store on Dec. 12 and the initial quota sold out in 48 hours.

National Treasure, also known as The Nation’s Greatest Treasures, is a phenomenal cultural exploration program developed by China Central Television (CCTV) that features significant antiquities from major Chinese museums.

Led by Palace Museum (also known as “The Forbidden City Museum”), each museum presents their treasures that vary from Sword of Goujian to Flying Horse of Gansu and Art of War bamboo slips, manifesting a rich collection of Chinese history and culture. The show created a novel genre that tells the story of antiquities in an authentic and comprehensive way, fusing tradition with creativity, history with entertainment.

National Treasure’s first season reached hundreds of millions of views and trillions of searches and comments on the Internet, receiving massive attention worldwide and stimulating an ongoing, enthusiastic discussion on history and archaeology. The second season, starting Dec. 9, 2018, is showcasing another 27 iconic Chinese masterpieces from nine prestigious museums around China. On Dec. 23, Changxin Palace Lantern was presented by Hebei Museum.

Daniel Arsham is a world-renowned contemporary artist straddles the line between art, architecture, and performance. Raised in Miami, Arsham attended the Cooper Union in New York City where he received the Gelman Trust Fellowship award in 2003. Architecture is a prevalent subject throughout his work; Environments with eroded walls and stairs going nowhere, landscapes where Nature overrides structures, and a general sense of playfulness within Existing architecture. Arsham makes architecture do things it is not supposed to do, mining everyday experience for opportunities to confuse and confound our expectations of space and form. Simple yet paradoxical gestures dominate his sculptural work: a façade that appears to billow in the wind, a figure wrapped up in the surface of a wall, a contemporary object cast in volcanic ash as if it was found on some future archaeological site.

To further expand the possibilities of spatial manipulation and collaboration, Arsham founded Snarkitecture in 2007 with partner Alex Mustonen to serve new and imaginative purposes. Their multidisciplinary practice has included collaborations with fashion designers and brands Kith, Public School, and Richard Chai, the entrance pavilion for Design Miami, as well as a complete line of functional design objects.

Arsham’s work has been shown at MoMA PS1, the Museum of Contemporary Art Miami, the Athens Biennale, the New Museum in New York, Musée d’art Contemporain de Nîmes among others. The artist is represented by Galerie Perrotin in Paris, Hong Kong, New York, Seoul, and Shanghai, Moran Bondaroff in Los Angeles, Baro Galeria in Sao Paulo, Pippy Houldsworth in London, and Galerie Ron Mandos in Amsterdam.

The Changxin Palace Lantern is an elegant gilt bronze lantern used to light the baths in the palace of Empress Dou. Dating back to the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD), it was excavated in 1968 from the tomb of Liu Sheng, the Zhongshan King, and is currently preserved in the Hebei Museum in China. The lantern measures 48 cm tall and weighing 15.85 kg, cast in the shape of a maid of honor on her knees and holding a lantern. This lantern is celebrated for its beauty, environmental feature, scientific ingenuity, and harmonious unification of its decorative and practical purposes.

The round base of the lantern rotated, allowing for adjustment of the direction and brightness of the emitted light. The hollow arm that connected to the lantern served to trap smoke produced by the light, forcing it to travel down the arm and into the body of the maid. Water was placed at the bottom of the structure so that once the smoke was captured, it was filtered in an effective anti-pollution technique. The lantern itself was a technological feat of its day that is impressive even in contemporary society.

Daniel Arsham pays tribute to Changxin Palace Lantern using his “color chiaroscuro” technique. The reinterpreted artwork is cast pure white, then painted with a dusting of pigment from a certain angle. This technique uses a gradual field of color to imply a shadow across the work, highlighting the texture, craftsmanship, and intricate detail of every fold and curve of the maid’s clothes. As the pigment is sprayed over the lantern, gravity determines where the color lands. Contrasting against the crisp white of the now colorless lantern, the blue brings the iconic piece into a new light.

In the interview regarding the collaboration with National Treasure, Daniel Arsham offers an elaborate narrative into his artistic concepts and studies of Chinese culture in this recreation of the Changxin Palace Lantern, as well as how this collaboration can be interpreted in the current global context.

As an artist interested in historical narratives, the extensive and rich history of China enticed Arsham, the collaboration with National Treasure was, therefore, a perfect pairing. Reflecting on the Changxin Palace Lantern from an archaeological perspective, Arsham was fascinated by both the lantern’s design and the quality that it held over a two thousand year period despite being buried until its discovery in 1968. An object that has survived through time that carries shadows of the past into the present as a symbol of the future, the piece represents themes and ideas that exist in Arsham’s other projects as well. Known as “The No. 1 Lantern from China,” Changxin Palace Lantern would be instantly recognizable for most Chinese people. As such, the majority of people already have a relationship with it, and this gives Arsham an existing relationship to build upon and to challenge. This is an important element for the artist as he believes that, “being able to see the objects from your own life, with this kind of new perspective of time, can be a very interesting and strong experience.”

The limited edition ‘Arsham Studio x Changxin Palace Lantern’ tee will be available at the global shopping website ArshamxNationalTreasure.com, Galerie Perrotin, and selected retailers on varied dates in early 2019. Follow HRY Group and Arsham for updates.

*This collaboration is made possible by Arsham Studio, National Treasure communication team, and HRY Group.

HRY Group is devoted to bridging global collaborations between cultural IPs and world-renowned artists and brands. We believe in the power of art and culture as to deepen communications and mutual understandings. We create products that connect and empower all. Special thanks to the diligent works of Dandi Gu, Irina Li, Ting Liu, and Rachel Qin from HRY Group’s creative team.

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