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Alejandro Agag




The opening of Dialogues, Charlene Vanneste’s first solo show in New York City, held at Parasol Projects on Bowery Street, attracted a very diverse crowd. The opening reception brought everyone from art aficionados and collectors, artists, iconic musicians, models and fashion designers, and even financial traders; they were all there. The vibe was upbeat, chill with experimental tribal music playing, and candle light installations on locally found driftwood.

Dressed in her trademark kimono made from the unique Batik fabric that she hand sources from Indonesia, Charlene’s charmingly warmed and energized personality filled the air while she explained and showcased her art to all her admirers, about how her art means so much to her. After meeting her at Art Basel in December through a mutual friend and immediately hitting it off, our friendship has endured and I was so proud to see how her hard work had paid off and the reactions the people in the crowd had to the artwork she dedicated so much time and love into. I sit here in Asia at the moment with my new Kimono she made for me, ready to wear it to a dinner once we arrive in Thailand of which I can’t wait to send her photos of. Her opening reception brought out the likes of globally acclaimed painter Domingo Zapata, Harif Guzman, Alejandro Agag, Elizabeth Fekkai, Simone Aptekman, and Santiago Rumney-Guggenheim to name a few.

Charlene’s background is not only inspiring, but she has this incredibly warm and vibrant spirit whose childhood dreams inspired what is now an increasingly successful career as a painter and designer. When Charlene moved to Indonesia, she began to experience visions of ancient tribal spirits in her dreams. She started to believe that these visions were speaking to her and decided to talk to her mother and shaman about these shifting visions and concepts. Remarkably, she concluded that these spirits were her Indonesian ancestors attempting to contact her. With that information, she ran with it like the wild spirit she is and turned it into something spectacular.

As a form of self-expression and a conduit for her visions, she had the idea to make a record for herself of the symbols and characters of her ancestors by marking them on canvas, using a pallet knife piled with acrylics and oils. Ancient images one would find adorning the cave walls, as the visions continued to emerge and change, it inspired her work to manifest as primitive and tribal. Like the current trends in fashion, art, and politics; and genderless iconic character Vanneste has created art that connotes how, regardless of sex, we are all humans, and with that it is important to treat people with equal respect. Her feeling is that united, humans are more powerful and that by creating her art it is her way of connecting people through the art and universal community. The power and energy of working together is expressed through her hieroglyphic stories. Combining contemporary European methods and primitive influence from Indonesian spirit warriors, Vanneste creates a dialogue between her ancient ancestors and modern society. After returning to Indonesia after a nearly entirely western upbringing, Charlene began to reconnect with her roots. Experimenting with different mediums, her origins guided her to adapt her hieroglyphic style onto her canvas and paintings, but also to the streets under the name Shaolen. In creating a new, fresh, and modern vibe, these mysterious yet enchanting characters have become her signature style. Her work can be found painted worldwide in spots such as London, Paris, Istanbul, Bali, and soon to be Newport Beach! Shaolen has exhibited in Asia and her artworks are held in private collections in Asia, London, Istanbul, France and the United States. Her opening in New York City on February 22nd was her first in the United States and not her last. She has already completed her second one in NYC, sold out her first show and to one to a very specific iconic musician, in addition to achieving handfuls of commissioned work requests. For further information on Charlene and to experience her work, visit her website at or on social media at @Charlenevanneste.