ABSOLUT China: A bottle by Chinese artists for the Chinese masses
130-year-old Swedish vodka brand, ABSOLUT, has worked with just about every major Western artist (including the likes of Andy Warhol and Keith Haring), fashion designer, and glass artisan to create over 300 different bottle designs that have been launched around the world. But now, the company’s looking East, teaming up with 29-year-old Chinese pop artist Gao Yu (高瑀) and photographer Chen Man (陈曼) to launch their newest line titled “72 Transformations” (72变), a China-only redesign of the brand’s iconic bottle.
Andy Warhol once said that anyone can have 15 minutes of fame. As long as you have the guts and will to transform yourself and your work, the possibilities can be way beyond 15 minutes of fame or 72 transformations— Gao Yu, Chinese artist
The theme “72 Transformations” (72变) is rooted in China, as the mythical Monkey King (Sun Wukong, 孙悟空) in the Chinese classic 16th-century tale “Journey to the West” has the ability to transform himself 72 different ways as he overcomes obstacles on his pilgrimage to achieve enlightenment.
“The traditional Chinese folk story of the Monkey King and the character of Sun Wukong lives on with all of us into adulthood,” explain artist Gao Yu to NeochaEDGE. “The story’s bold, powerful, innovative and unrestrained ideas have inspired many generations to realize their imaginations and fantasies. The Monkey King’s ability for ‘72 Transformations’ is a perfect example of innovation through change. In designing this limited edition bottle, I used a panda to play Sun Wukong since it’s a strong symbol of traditional China, but also because it fits with ABSOLUT’s constantly changing and evolving brand philosophy.”
The project marks the latest commercial success for Gao Yu, whose pieces first sold at auction when he was 23. He continued his success as a group of his paintings “Under the Red Flag” sold in a Christie’s auction in Hong Kong for nearly HK$200,000; in 2006, “看不懂也猜不透” ("Don’t Understand and Can’t Guess Clearly") sold in a Sotheby’s auction for nearly HK$ 300,000, setting an all-time high for similarly aged artists in Asia, according to NeochaEDGE.
"Andy Warhol once said that anyone can have 15 minutes of fame. As long as you have the guts and will to transform yourself and your work, the possibilities can be way beyond 15 minutes of fame or 72 transformations," said Gao Yu in a recent interview about the project, invoking the name of one of the most famous ABSOLUT bottle designers.
ABSOLUT plans to release 350,000 limited-edition bottles and they will hit Chinese store shelves on August 6.