Peng Known For Juxtaposing Traditional Chinese Painting And Papier-mâché
Gaining a strong foothold in Hong Kong, branching into the luxury watch segment, deliberately choosing mainland China locations, and now partnering with Chinese contemporary artists for advertising campaigns…It appears that Britain’s Graff Diamonds knows how to hit all the right notes in the China luxury market. Graff, which now operates two locations in mainland China, one in Shanghai and the other in Beijing, is in the midst of a deliberate expansion effort that will see the company enter the comparatively small but highly lucrative Hangzhou market by the end of this year.
Founded in 1960 by Laurence Graff, the family-owned company is looking to outmaneuver larger competitors like Tiffany & Co. in China through deliberate long-term planning. “We believe this is a good time for us to enter China,” Arnaud Bastien, general manager of Graff Diamonds Hong Kong and Greater China, recently told the South China Morning Post. “The market is more mature and the rich mainlanders are now spending a significant amount of money on rare pieces.”
To introduce one of these “rare pieces” to rich mainlanders, Graff recently commissioned the Chinese contemporary artist Peng Wei (彭薇) to create one of her trademark ink painting-and-papier-mâché pieces for Graff’s “Wedding Party” spread in this month’s issue of Robb Report China. For her collaboration with Graff, Peng wrapped rice paper around a model to create a body mold, upon which she depicted the wedding of the Sultan of Brunei in ink and watercolor. As Peng said, “I’m fascinated by high-end jewelry, and when I see pictures of pieces and their design I can kind of satisfy my own vanity. Plus, diamonds have always symbolized the eternal nature of marriage.”
Since Graff counts royalty among its clientele, Peng elaborated, “I wanted to recreate the historical origins of Graff and the Sultan of Brunei on the rice paper.” Peng Wei added that her piece for Graff required about half a month of painstaking work, after which it was ready to “wear” a special 80 karat diamond necklace.
“When we draped the necklace over my piece,” Peng put it, “we could finally call it a finished work of art.”
Now that her latest work is complete, what’s next for Peng Wei? A solo exhibition at Guangzhou’s Hexiangning Art Museum (何香凝美术馆), slated for December. As for Graff Diamonds, after the opening of its Hangzhou boutique later this year, the company’s next target is anyone’s guess.