Fleur Cowles (1908 – 2009)

"Few women have lived more multiple lives than I have: as editor: as that anomaly, an American president’s personal representative, decorated by six governments; as a writer of thirteen books and contributor to six others; as a painter, with fifty-one one-man exhibitions throughout the world; patron of the arts and sciences, irrepressible traveller and, more importantly, friend-gatherer …"
-Fleur Cowles

"Few women have lived more multiple lives than I have: as editor: as that anomaly, an American president’s personal representative, decorated by six governments; as a writer of thirteen books and contributor to six others; as a painter, with fifty-one one-man exhibitions throughout the world; patron of the arts and sciences, irrepressible traveller and, more importantly, friend-gatherer …"
-Fleur Cowles

A rose is a powerhouse of beauty and spicy scented goodness. The blooms are perfectly formed and come in clusters. A confectionary concoction of apricot, ginger, parchment, cream and never disappoints. What a fitting tribute to a woman, born in 1908 who became a renowned artist, author, journalist, patron and fashionista.

Cowles had first become famous in the USA while married to her third husband Mike Cowles, the owner of Look magazine. In 1950, she launched Flair, an extravagant and innovative magazine for the elite. Flair combined cut-out covers and varied paper stocks with stories by the likes of W. H. Auden, Jean Cocteau and Tennessee Williams, and illustrations by Picasso, Dalí, Lucian Freud and even Winston Churchill. An admirable woman, she was way ahead of her time and was once quoted saying, “I have an idea a minute. I’m a born idea myself”. Created from passion rather than being profit orientated, the 12 loss-making issues have inspired generations of magazine editors and are now collectors’ items.

Cowles was President Eisenhower’s special envoy at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and moved to London when she married Meyer in 1955. Her friend Cary Grant was best man. From first one set, then two overlooking the Albany’s central courtyard, she cultivated her friendships with royals, the rich and the famous — including American presidents, foreign heads of state, HM Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother (described as her best friend) and film stars such as Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor — and was renowned for hosting fabulous dinner parties.

Cowles’ favourite flower was the rose and she painted it many times. Her paintings also featured creatures of the jungle, birds and huge sprawling blooms, often placed in dreamlike settings.

Her artwork first received international attention at the Sao Paulo Biennale in 1965, and ultimately her work was publicly displayed over fifty times in galleries and museums throughout the world, including a 1993 exhibition at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., at which time Richard Martin, then the Curator of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, had this to say of her: “She imbues each mushroom and flower of fictive jungle with the properties of enchantment.”

Her paintings were favoured by many celebrities. She explained her artistic process, saying that she would simply sit down in front of a blank canvas and start painting; she didn’t make sketches prior to starting or look at anything for inspiration. She was adamant that her paintings do not hold hidden meanings. She executed them with only her “longing and desire to give pleasure to other people,” adding that her aim was to “create, create, create.”

[Han Yajuan]

Han Yajuan (1980 - Present)

Han Yajuan was born in 1980 in Qingdao, Shandong Province. She studied for her Bachelor of Arts at the Chinese Academy of Art in Hangzhou before achieving a Master of Fine Art at the Oil Painting Department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing in 2008.

"Enthralled by ideas of femininity and the growing successes of women in societal circles, as there are only females being portrayed into her paintings and sculptors, it is also from her own experiences and intuition that she came to a painterly decision that women should express themselves as autonomous subjects having potential which is different but no less capable than that of their male counterparts in the shared universe."

Han depicts the lives of her generation of young Chinese women. Her kawaii style characters are a celebration of the newfound abundance of choices and chances. By juxtaposing her signature female figures with an affinity for high fashion and opulent style, she illustrates both the desires and burgeoning opportunities, which influence the new, globally minded generation of Chinese women.

In 2012, she was featured in a Reuter’s article entitled “The hot-young-artists league table”. This article calculated the artists auction revenue, up to and including the year they turned 30, and Han was ranked at number 7 in the table. A further article written by Bloomberg in 2013, ranked Han in the top-10 selling artists born since 1980.

Artist Gallery

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