All image credits courtesy of Hennessy

Not simply a new year, but a new cycle in the Chinese calendar. So, of course, we should expect that Hennessy brings us something special for the Year of the Rat. The Cognac giant certainly hasn’t disappointed, because this year their release isn’t “just” a unique new design, but is also a collaboration with one of the hottest contemporary artists of the moment—Zhang Huan.

The original work of art, aptly entitled, Eaux-de-vie (2019), is enormous! Measuring over five meters in length, the uber-painting embodies shades of red, orange, and yellow, and—on closer inspection—is patterns of Cognac, grapes, and lanterns floating in a layered expression that, says Huan, was directly inspired by Hennessy’s world-famous library of eaux-de-vie.

Chinese New Year 2020: Hennessy Cognac and Zhang Huan
The artist, Shang Huan, created a huge 5-meter work of art

This work was then transposed onto the label and the presentation box, with the bottle itself being resplendent in a gleaming shade of red.

Chinese New Year 2020: Hennessy Cognac and Zhang Huan
The bottle is, of course, red in colour with the artists work depicted on the label

From China to the US and back again

The artist spent some time in NYC in the 1990s, and has drawn on this enriching travel experience in his creations. He says of this unique Hennessy work, “Being abroad gave me a deeper understanding of my tradition, perhaps because I had to see myself from far away. I believe that Chinese and Western cultures are meant to integrate with each other, which is why I sought to incorporate a sense of movement in this work. We never know where life may take us, but I do believe that everything that has gone before leads up to the present moment. That is what I want to celebrate in my creations.”

Zhang himself has been wowing art lovers for the past three decades, and is as well known for his work in sculpture as his is for his paintings, and loves to experiment with different mediums.

Chinese New Year 2020: Hennessy Cognac and Zhang Huan
Huan used a myriad of colors to create his work of art

Today he’s based in Shanghai and he says of this commissioned work for Hennessy, “Making art is about using an object as a vehicle to express inner thoughts, or a spiritual side. Eaux-de-vie is intended as a natural, living expression”.

Chinese New Year 2020: Hennessy Cognac and Zhang Huan
Zhang Huan has been capturing the art world’s attention since the 1990s

One for the collectors

As with many of Hennessy’s artistic collaborations, especially this one for Hennessy China, the Cognac within the bottle is their much-loved VSOP. It’s the bottle itself that’s the limited edition. In order to prepare his work of art, Hennessy invited Huan to Cognac to immerse himself in the family traditions and values. His two-week visit saw him introduced to the crucial role of the cellar master, discover the importance of the casks and barrels used for aging, and learn about the whole Cognac-making process.

Master Blender, Renaud Fillioux de Gironde, says of the Chinese New Year 2020 offering, “Zhang’s painting is entirely his personal inspiration and vision. My role in the collaboration was simply to give him some background and to share why I am so passionate about what I do.”

Chinese New Year 2020: Hennessy Cognac and Zhang Huan
The artist attended the launch of the limited edition along with Hennessy’s elite

Last year’s artistic partnership with Guangyu Zhang sold out fast, and no doubt this 2020 Chinese New Year of the Rat, presentation of Hennessy Zhang Huan will do the same.

We have to say, the success of these artistic limited editions is going from strength to strength. Expressions such as the Hennessy VSOP Kyrios, the Kaws VS bottle, and that by VIHLs are impossible to get hold of. We can still supply the Spanish artist offering by Felipe Pantone, but we guarantee that won’t be for long.

This Hennessy Chinese New Year 2020 by Zhang Huan goes on sale this month (January), and once again is only being distributed in a strictly limited edition. So if you get your hands on a bottle be sure to guard it well. Because this, as with most of the others in this ever-popular series, is sure to only increase in value.

Chinese New Year 2020: Hennessy Cognac and Zhang Huan
The presentation box also showcases this unique work of art

Discover more about the Hennessy Chinese New Year 2020 by Zhang Huan and the house of Hennessy itself.

Sources: press.hennessy.com, galeriemagazine.com

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Chinese New Year 2020: Hennessy Cognac and Zhang Huan

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Jacki has been with Cognac Expert from virtually the beginning. She's the senior editor of the blog, and has spent much of her life living in rural France. Today she's based back in the UK, where she splits her working life between writing for Cognac Expert and working as a Paramedic at a large regional hospital.

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