“When I mix 3-D forms with dynamic Op-Art patterns, I’m trying to convey other meanings, to lead you somewhere, and to tell a story,” says Felipe Pantone. Though seemingly haphazard, there’s nothing random about the rapturous blends of vivid color gradients and entrancing Vasarely-like grids employed by the Argentine-born artist, who cut his teeth doing graffiti in Alicante, Spain. The elusive Pantone has yet to publicly reveal his true identity, but his signature stamp is immediately recognizable—it has landed everywhere from Miami’s Wynwood walls to digitized displays in Moscow shopping centers. “When I create a physical piece of art, I’m trying to conceive what I call an experience trap,” he says. “When you see or begin to interact with the piece, you become trapped in the experience I’m offering.”
The distinct visuals, which evoke trance-like movement, balance reverence for the past with a longing for the future. They wouldn’t look out of place on a vintage television struggling for a signal or an ‘80s-era synth pop video. And when paired together, they encapsulate the technological optimism once experienced in decades past that has since diminished in the wake of today’s era of hyper-omnipotent tech. This perhaps explains why his work resonates wherever it goes—and gives reason to why Hennessy tapped Pantone to reimagine the latest release of the brand’s Very Special Limited Series of Cognacs, which officially launches today.
Pantone created an original artwork, called W-3 Dimensional Three Stars, which contains a multitude of visual elements the artist discovered when leafing through old Hennessy labels, advertisements, antique bottles, and packaging in the brand’s archive library. Meeting with Hennessy’s Master Blender also proved fruitful. “Everything he told me about the brand’s savoir-faire, inherited through generations, was fascinating. They work so meticulously, blending eaux-de-vie, mixing them in such a unique way,” says Pantone, who soon found common ground in the Master Blender’s reverence for refreshing the past. “He and Hennessy are keeping the flame alive, which like in art, means constantly reinventing yourself to keep offering new things.”
The collaboration is both a departure from each party’s comfort zone and a remarkable display of versatility. W-3 Dimensional Three Stars features a quilted pattern atypical of Pantone’s oeuvre, but it radiates his characteristic energy and brilliance. “I wanted to enhance the Hennessy Very Special experience with something that has never existed before and show how Hennessy lives intensely in the present,” he says. Most notably, Pantone appropriated the brand’s three-star motif for his own exploration of Cognac’s visual signifiers. An iridescent lightning bolt, which symbolizes the digital era’s need for speed, splices the canvas and lends an extra punch. Transposed onto the Hennessy Very Special label, there’s perhaps no greater metaphor for the brand’s ability to capture momentum—as well as warm-hearted and full-bodied flavors—through the centuries. “Hennessy may be a heritage brand, but it’s bursting with dynamism.”