To spend a hundred thousand crowns on a single handbag or dress is unimaginable to most people. But there are others for whom such an expenditure would represent nothing more than pocket change and be insignificant. Should we envy or be jealous of such people?
Or, does it really matter? People should be able to spend their money as they wish and for whatever they want. Some may be happy with a handbag costing just a few crowns, while for others, the latest bag from Louis Vuitton is a “must have”. Now we can put on a religious cloak and consider the concept of “sin”, which has been around in one form or another since ancient times. And let's face it, the idea of condemning the purchasing of something that is outrageously expensive as sinful is usually just borne out of jealously and envy. And isn't then envy also one of the seven deadly sins?
Art as Virtue
And what about art? Should the spending of exorbitant sums on art objects be immoral? Or perhaps it really doesn’t matter, because "after all, it’s about art?" Questions give rise to answers and answers give rise to more questions.
The French artist Philippe Shangti is completely fascinated by and absorbed with thinking about controversial subjects. Living a life of art, photography and aesthetics has been his passion since he was 14 years old. He started out as a model and back then, he was already playing with a camera. His first pictures were of objects, landscapes and his family. In 2006, he already had his head so full of ideas that he needed to run out into the world and start to "really create". From his hometown of Toulouse, he moved to Saint-Tropez – a city known for its rather debauched lifestyle. And here he met Joseph Geenen, an owner of numerous local restaurants and bars. Despite his desire to develop a career in the fashion industry and to come out with his own clothing line, Shangti eventually agrees to Geenen's offer to create a comprehensive design for a new restaurant, lounge.
This is how the port-side establishment called Le Quai (the dock) got its start and it combines a very stylish restaurant and bar with an art gallery. The gallery is part of the dining experience, enabling diners to gaze upon the exhibited works during their meal.
Philippe put all of his energy and talent into serving the needs of the famous and crazy Saint Tropez nighttime parties - and it is this world that inspired him. He used and uses his camera to capture, participate in and bring others into this world.
An Agent Provocateur
Philippe begins to produce his first very wild and eye bursting photos with the goal and desire to provoke strong reactions from those that look at them.
Ultimately, Shangti's photos are forcing the viewer to respond by being unequivocally challenging, forcing one to adjust to a different perspective. Each of his photos is a new challenge with the intention of demolishing old taboos and highlighting controversial topics such as sex, drugs and death.
Luxury within Reach
And now, on to luxury. His last series of paintings (2015) was entitled “Luxury Overdose”, which literally overflowed with beauty and an was filled with an excess of just about anything you can imagine that might be considered a "luxury". For example, the painting "Luxury Overdose Dinner" takes the viewer into a dream world for many. There are diamonds, gold, jewelry and other outrageously expensive and inaccessible things. One just needs to reach out and touch them.
Let Yourself be Seduced
We should add that the artist and his photographs do not spare his audience and, though some of his work is highly charged and evocative, without any subtlety, he is an obvious talent and he has established himself as a prominent contemporary artist. As such, he has attracted and seduced the interest of art collectors and celebrities such as the American actress Eva Longoria and the American NBA basketball player Tony Parker.
In Shangti's work, you are first hit by an overall impression of the work and then, you start to look and find more subtle details. More like a film than a picture, his work starts to tell a story. And maybe, his work is also hiding answers to questions, such as, “Is indulging luxury a sin?” Or perhaps, there are just more questions.