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Murakami In Versailles

From cultural heritage to stylish contemporary art.

When Marc Jacobs, creative director for Louis Vuitton, collaborated with the art world’s celebrated painter and sculptor, Takashi Murakami, the result was a hive’s worth of buzz. Murakami transformed the company’s LV logo into a multi-color riot of cartoon-eye designs on a white sterile background. Needless to say, the artist suddenly found himself fashion’s latest it-boy in Paris. The rest is fashion retail history.  Not unlike Andy Warhol, Takashi Murakami picks up low culture and tweaks it for the “high-art” market. The end products are often innovative and forward-moving design concepts.

It took ten years before the French government honored him with another major exhibition, the last ones at the Fundacion Cartier and the Emmanuel Perrotin gallery. In the fall 2010, the most discussed art exhibit had to be the “Murakami in Versailles.”
When the artist was asked what Versailles conjured for him, Takashi Murakami was quoted as saying, “For us (the Japanese) the Palace is both a symbol of Western history and a dream world with its own aesthetics.” In effect the artist creates tension between two cultures: the high and low, the superficial and the profound.

Versailles belonged to a particular moment in French history and was conceived by the French monarchy as the solution to its political problems. It was meant as a symbol of the glory of the French monarchial system. It was fitting and right that the Palace of Louis XIV should reveal its inexhaustible novelty and not become another relic of a worn past. To Murakami, the Palace itself is a site of such decorative elements that it is three-dimensional in nature. In a sense, the Japanese artist gave the chateau a breath of new life.
It’s in the Hall of Mirrors where Louis the King was painted by artist Le Brun in an epic narrative of the glories of monarchy. The King is depicted in a tableau leading the French crossing of the Rhine River in 1672. Dressed like a Roman god with hair streaming, he holds a thunderbolt projectile sitting in a silver chariot pushed by Hercules. In contrast, Murakami’s sculpture, “Flower Matango,” which graces the fabled room, depicts in fiber glass, acrylic and iron  a character which appears in a film done by the makers of Godzilla. It’s painted in an explosion of garish pop colors.

The whole audacity of the sculptural piece looks stunning in the Hall of Mirrors, a confectionary of unabashedly glorified Louis XIV’s reign. The effect is both dissonant and harmonious as Murakami’s artwork is set against a European tradition of perspective and abandons subject in favor of color. The artist’s initial goal was indeed to weave his personal Japanese identity into the fabric of Versailles creating a new chemical reaction for the viewers.

Louis XIV believed in the principle of an open palace. He wrote in his memoirs, “ If there is anything singular about French monarchy, it is the free and easy access which subjects have to their prince.” These days the Chateau de Versailles and its gardens constitute the most breathtaking cultural heritages of France. And indeed one of its patrimonial missions is to enhance it and to keep it available to the public. And by introducing a rich and varied artistic program, the chateau is brought back to life. Murakami declared that from a technical standpoint, he was locked in a battle with one of the world’s most difficult installation sites.


  • by JING RAMOS photo courtesy of Galerie EMMANUEL Perrotin

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Find Your Summer Spirit in Shangri-La Mactan, Cebu

Breathe in the tropical atmosphere, as you find summer joys through sight, sound and taste at Shangri-La Mactan, Cebu. Poolside fun during the day, spent serenely and luxuriantly—a refreshment in hand. While the evenings are for outdoor family movie nights, with the ocean waves rippling in the background.

Summer is all of that, and more! Plan an extraordinary weekend with an array of exciting activities that await your arrival. Discover your #ShangriLaSummerSpirit from 15 July to 30 August.

Tiki Bar at Buko Bar

Epicurean Delights by the Pool

Keep yourself fueled up as you splish and splash with the whole crew. Take a quick break from all that summer jazz with Mediterranean and Polynesian-inspired bites exquisitely crafted for your palate. From rice balls and pastas, ice creams to sliders—indulge in tastes and aromas that transport you to a world of endless, golden summers.

Mediterranean Selections at Acqua

A Whimsical Touch

Make it a colourful summer for the kids! Let them explore their own version of paradise with whimsical floaties, sure to keep them happily afloat. Your little ones can now freely kick and play in the water with fun and fascinating, animal-shaped inflatables.

Pleasant Sundowner Tunes

Bid the sun adieu and embrace the sunset hues with live acoustics at the Main Pool from 4pm to 6:30pm.

Tiki Cocktails at Buko Bar

Champagne Bar at Acqua

A Toast to an Endless Summer!

Unwind and savour the tropical vibe as our expert mixologists craft refreshing Tiki cocktails and serve chilled bottles of exquisite champagne by the pool! With a backdrop of swaying palm trees and stunning ocean views, sip on delightful beverages and toast to unforgettable summer moments in paradise.

Family Outdoor Movie Night

Gather your nearest and dearest for an enchanting evening as we set up a large outdoor screen by the pool under the starry night sky. Cozy up as you enjoy a family-friendly movie that will delight both those who are young and young-at-heart at Treasure Island from 7pm to 9pm.

Surrounded by lush greens, let the experience bring you to a world of joy and laughter, creating cherished memories for you and the family. For more information on Shangri-La Mactan, Cebu, you may contact (032) 2310288. You may also follow them on Facebook and Instagram or visit #FindYourSummerSpirit #FindYourShangriLa

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LONDON IN FULL BLOOM: An Exclusive Look at the recent Chelsea Flower Show

Dame Judy Dench (center in white) with gallery owner, Jerry Sibal, Edwin Josue, writer Eva Gullas and artist James Doran-Webb.

The Chelsea Flower Show in London, one of the most prestigious horticultural events in the world, returned in full glory in May 2023, captivating visitors with its stunning displays and landscape designs. Held annually on the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London, this year’s show proved to be a true feast for the senses, showcasing an array of breathtaking gardens, vibrant floral arrangements, and innovative landscaping. The 3-day event showcased 36 outdoor gardens, including four balcony gardens for small spaces. Inside the giant pavilion, blooms compete with each other, exotic flowers, roses, and many more.

Princess Kate Middleton walking the booths at the Chelsea Flower Show.

Dame Judy Dench, who owns several of Webb’s pieces in her garden, with James Doran-Webb and Jerry Sibal discussing the works of James.

One of the flower arrangements competing at the show.

The 2023 Chelsea Flower Show embraced a Nature’s Harmony theme, with a strong focus on sustainability and mental health. The show’s organizers emphasized the importance of sustainable gardening practices and biodiversity conservation, inspiring attendees to create beautiful outdoor spaces while preserving and protecting the environment.

One of the floral gazebo displays recycled chairs and salvaged materials.

Shops at the Chelsea Flower Show are mostly from sustainable materials.

What’s Cebu got to do with the Chelsea Flower Show in London? One person. James Doran Webb (, an Englishman working with driftwood, has been displaying his artworks for several years. James collects cast-off driftwood and shapes them into beautiful animal shapes that find places in some of the most iconic gardens. Leaping horses, owls, reindeer, and the occasional dragon, James Webb’s creations are avidly collected by landscapers to add accent to gardens in all sizes, using cast-off wood, fitting perfectly with the sustainable element—something Mr. Webb has done quite well for the last decade.

The impressive dragon of James Doran-Webb


The Philippine International Flower Festival will be held at the PICC in Manila from January 14 to 18, 2024. Watch out for more info from our website!

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Club Serena: A ‘Serene Luxury’ Experience in the Heart of Cebu’s Diving Mecca

photography by GPA Art and Photography

A three-hour drive, or more, depending on traffic, the fishing town of Moalboal in the southwest of Cebu Island is an extremely popular destination for divers and weekenders who love the white sand and pink sunsets. It is also a favorite place to stay for expats looking for a laid-back life of endless coffees or cocktails.

Thankfully, the big chain resorts haven’t discovered it and places to stay are mostly small family-run resorts. But if pampering is what you are looking for, there is only one hotel to book in Moalboal. Club Serena Resort is a 1.7-hectare beachfront property perched above coral rocks, presenting a unique union of luxurious accommodations and a host of activities to be enjoyed. This hidden gem is reached through a dirt road away from the main highway. Fronting a wide swath of white sand beach, it is an easy walk past several smaller resorts to reach the main town.

Recently renovated by noted architect James Jao, the new Club Serena has 17 rooms, three swimming pools, a restaurant, and a beachfront event space, all designed with modern Filipino aesthetic. On the drawing board are more rooms to be added, an expansion of their modern dive shop, and their popular Kids’ Club program. Their food outlet, Mira, offers all-day dining, favorite among visitors and locals, as well as the growing expat community that has settled in Moalboal. 

Club Serena offers diving courses for adults and kids by their resident operator, Seven Seas Aquanauts Phil. Corp, a PADI 5 accredited diving facility operating since 1988. For a complete list of the courses and their rates, please call (+63) 917.872.6367 or (+63) 905.459.5307.

The resort encourages above-water activities as well, and they have several paddle boards and kayaks available for guests to use.

For rates and more information, visit or email or (+63) 917.872.6367 or (+63) 905.459.5307. You can also visit their Facebook page for updates.

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