I briefly stopped by the Adidas Originals store in Causeway Bay on Friday night. The two-story shop was jazzed up with an exhibition by Hong Kong artist Dorophy Tang. Elements of this same exhibition recently debuted in the Adidas flagship store in Beijing. The show, “Kicks Discovery II” is comprised of Dorophy’s series of seventy hand-painted baby figures and several large Adidas-themed paintings.
Dispersed throughout the store, the figures were displayed in standing cases shaped like large Adidas shopping bags!
It appears that the artist had no qualms translating her designs into a commercial setting. Of special note was a larger-than-life baby that was positioned on the ground floor. As guests arrived, many of them paused to have their photo taken with the jumbo figure which featured an “I (Adidas logo) Hong Kong” slogan on its chest.
The walls of the shop featured murals with Dorophy Tang’s signature baby characters decked out in Adidas garb. Her work here combines traditional Chinese iconography such as clouds and pink-cheeked smiling babies (that could have been plucked from vintage advertisements,) with imagery from propaganda posters. The Adidas-clad babies were pictured in various settings with exuberant and triumphant stances.
The baby figures in the cases varied greatly in style. Many of them were covered in adaptations of famous Adidas iconography. These included sports stars associated with the company, as well as abstract geometric designs. Dorophy Tang did an excellent job creating a diverse collection.
One thing I particularly enjoy about her work is Dorophy’s talent for dirtying up the art with drips, cracks, and frays. This adds an heirloom or nostalgic flavor to the work, and removes the squeaky-clean appearance of the cutesy characters. (Have a look at the second row figure at the center of the photo below.)
The baby figures are just another type of canvas. Their white color makes them a particularly effective, high-contrast surface to decorate.
From what I’ve seen of her work, Dorophy Tang’s art is particularly well suited to corporate collaborations. As opposed to other art which is often deemed edgy and perhaps threatening, Dorophy Tang’s work has a high cute factor. Smiling, chubby babies are about as innocuous and brand-friendly as you can get. Her work has won her collaborations with Epson, Medicom Toys and Lomo Cameras in addition to Adidas.
Though I left the event early, the turnout was already very strong.