Joshua Bienko's Christian Louboutin shoes create tension.
The nine pairs, their bottoms painted with recreations of works by Warhol, Duchamp, Murakami and Koons, are glorious to behold. The brightly and conspicuously painted "Campbells" soup can emblazoned across the Warhol shoe is enough to make any socialite drool. The Murakami shoe features a psychedelic blend of colored circles, all boiling down to something that looks like an anime clown, if you tilt your head the right way. The Koons shoe has a shiny, unidentifiable, globular object on its underside, which plays like a sliver of silver in the center of a ruby. Each painting brings out the red trademark of the Louboutin shoe.
Yet one gallivant through the Galleria would wreck the blood-soled heels, which ruins the fantasy of actually wearing them. And that is exactly what Bienko wants.
The quirky artist, also a Texas A&M professor, wants the shoes have a love and hate effect. They're are a problem that can never be solved, not only for the fashion-forward but for art critics.
If you love Warhol, you could see the shoe as honoring him; if you don't, you might appreciate that his work has been recreated on the bottom of a shoe.
Although you can ascribe deeper meaning to each piece, you don't have to. Bienko first saw the shoes on Oprah.
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"What is that?" the artist remembers saying aloud. "That's such sexy real estate." Enthralled with the Louboutins, which retail for $800-plus, he bought three pairs. With a grant from the Academy of Fine and Performing Arts, six more pairs were purchased, and the execution began.
Bienko's shoes have since made appearances at galleries all over the States. Louboutin himself even saw, praised and signed the shoes at a show in Atlanta. They were originally on display last Thursday at Neiman Marcus, then made a three-day appearance at Barbara Davis Gallery. Art Attack didn't get a chance to see them there, but we got to meet with the artist afterward.
Bienko, who looks to painters Michelangelo Pistoletto and Maurizio Cattelan for inspiration, describes himself as a cultural investigator, digging for hidden messages in pop culture. He is faithful to no one medium of art and routinely switches back and forth between painting, drawing, photography and video mediums.
His art raps, a series of videos in which he spits about contemporary art, artists and culture, was shortlisted for the Guggenheim Museum competition. The raps are definitely worth a look; click here to see them on Bienko's website.