On Wednesday night in South Beach, the French-Swiss land and street artist SAYPE was observing the sand outside of the Scope Art Show. Behind the fence separating the fair from the beach, large swaths of dark sand stretched vertically toward the ocean. Taken in from above — which guests could do via drones, and walk away with their own video clips — the beach revealed a clearer picture: two photorealistic hands, one holding a pencil connected to a chain of people which extended to the other hand.
SAYPE had been tapped by Balmain to create the new large scale work at the fair in collaboration with (RED) to honor World AIDS Day, which was Wednesday.
“Dude, looks insane! Have you seen the video?” said one guest after the drone experience, greeting the artist with a handshake on his way back inside the fair. Guests included Caroline Vazzana, Blaise Ffrench, NBA superfan James Goldstein in his usual Miami-Cowboy getup, and Phil Collins’ ex-wife Orianne Cevey. DJ Moma performed a set adjacent to the cash bar, where the majority of the crowd was congregated. An aerial photo of SAYPE’s piece was displayed on one of the walls.
SAYPE recalled the brand reaching out to him about collaborating on the project. “All of my work is about finding the meaning of the artwork, and I love when art can link people, link different worlds together,” he said, adding that while he hadn’t worked with a fashion brand before, he found the concept appealing. “Olivier [Rousteing] explains his ideas, and to express what he feels, he uses an artistic way and he draws, and I find a lot of link with Balmain and my work. We worked together to support a beautiful cause, so I was very happy and grateful. I will say, you can feel it’s a really creative brand because they gave me a lot of freedom, and it was very cool to work with them.”
It took the artist three days to paint the piece, although the logistics leading up were more complicated. SAYPE, who works with natural materials such as grass and biodegradable paints, noted that sand proved a more challenging canvas.
“The thing is, it’s very ephemeral, and you have to manage that. You can’t walk on the fresco, on the paint, because that makes creases, so I have to walk in a very different way than I usually do in the grass. There’s a lot of things to manage. If it’s raining, the fresco will blow away.”
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