Artist Uses Handcrafted Silk Shoes as Canvas for Traditional Chinese-Style Illustrations
Chinese artist Peng Wei delicately tucks traditional Chinese-style paintings between the fine walls of handcrafted silk shoes for her project titled Good Things Come into Pairs. The combination of classical Chinese paintings within the traditional material feels natural, a demure casing that conceals a more sensual centre. The series is just another addition to Wei’s impressive portfolio, as she expertly employs a variety of mediums to explore her cultural heritage within the themes of femininity and tradition.
Historically in Chinese culture, it was customary to apply tight binding wraps around a young girl’s feet and then cover the whole casing in a silk slipper in efforts to stunt the foot growth; this was a distinct status symbol as well as an adopted emblem that epitomized femininity and beauty. Bound feet enhanced a woman’s walk, making her movements dainty, and the tradition become a symbolic erotic fantasy in many areas of the country where it was practised.
The series of artistically painted shoes call into question ideas of femininity and beauty by stripping the shoes themselves of their proper function and transforming them into objects to be admired. Introducing elements of the contemporary, Wei uses her work to explore traditional concepts and subvert classical motifs. Fusing antiquity with modern themes allows the artist to continually produce thought-provoking pieces.