The fascinating thing about S01E05 is that Mies van der Rohe’s famous dicturm of modernism, “less is more,” applies to it perfectly, yet so do the philosophical musings of pop singer Heidi Montag: “more is more.”
S01E05’s artist is in my view one of the most exciting and talented around today. He is a quintessential contemporary perfumer, and I find his work, which is uniformly good-to-great, a guide to the future, seemingly effortless forward movement. We are, here, in the hands of neither a modernist (you don’t perceive the slightest interest in re-understanding the past from a different angle) nor a post-modernist (no tearing down, no violence, no temper tantrums). If he has absorbed the medium’s canon, here is a creator who never once looks over his shoulder.
This is one of a number of works he has created for a spectacularly serious and well-directed house—a house intelligent enough to be awarding him numerous commissions—and one of the best in their collection. That is saying something because their collection is one of, I’d say, six or seven best in the world.
E05 is a work in the literalist style, contemporary figuratism, almost photo realism. The name contains the object that the artist is ostensibly photographing, but like all photo realism this is aesthetic trick. The work is so much more. Its creator obviously knows the plush, gold-leaf-and scarlet-velvet romanticism of Aimé Guerlain’s Jicky (1889) and the 1999 version of Jicky, the brilliant synthetic-curtain post-Romanticist sensuality of Michel Almairac’s Rush. E05 is an ingenious 21st century romanticism that uses the olfactory photo to paint shadows within light, sensual and pungent nature, a realist dark green from an enchanted garden with rich soil and sinuous vines—a garden you retreat to with pleasure—and a beauty that looks you in the eye and smiles.
The artist has made the technical choice of designing the work for evolution on skin. Wikipedia tells me, of Montag’s oeuvre, “Lyrically, the song is about going to the club with friends, drinking and receiving male attention. In the second half, the lyrics switch…to more sexual.” Sums it up.
The turn-of-the-century Guerlains made statements. In the French style, they said something, specific and purposeful. They didn’t disappear like a cloak of nanoparticles on your skin. E05 makes a statement, but it does it without the French ego, vanity, or pomp. It is relaxed, it is intelligent. I suspect that if Guerlain were living now he’d either be creating this work or sincerely envying its artist.