This solo exhibition by artist Do Ho Suh features work ranging from large-scale architectural installations and sculptures, to works on paper and video. Operating within a distinctly twenty-first century global mode, Suh crafts evocative works that reflect ideas of home, identity, and personal space.
In his work, Suh draws on his personal experiences growing up in Seoul, South Korea, studying art in the U.S., and moving homes several times over the course of his life. He now lives a global and “nomadic” existence, with homes in New York, London, and Seoul. Inspired by his personal history and biography, the artist’s sculptures and installations reveal a range of powerful themes, including notions of public versus private space, global identity, memory, and displacement. At the same time, Suh’s works strike viewers with their delicate monumentality, subtle beauty, and intricate construction techniques.
This exhibition will transform MCASD Downtown’s Jacobs Building into a maze-like installation that replicates the artist’s apartment spaces from a single building in New York City. Created in luminous swaths of translucent fabric, the ghostly rooms and hallways are mysteriously supported by a subtle stainless steel armature. Three combined installations—Apartment A, 348 West 22nd Street, New York, NY 10011, USA (2011–2012); Corridor and Staircase, 348 West 22nd Street New York, NY 10011, USA (2011–2012); and Unit 2, 348 West 22nd Street, New York, NY 10011, USA (2014)—encourage the public to pass through the ephemeral, dreamlike representation of the artist’s personal history. Rendered in blocks of translucent color, the fabric walls at once conceal and reveal the details articulated within. A long, salmon-colored corridor connects to a bright red stairway suspended from the ceiling. A veil of blue walls contains a kitchen, bathroom, and living spaces with details including window moldings and interior fixtures. In Unit 2, the artist’s latest and final work in the series, yellow walls describe additional rooms, which the artist added to his New York apartment and that served alternately as his studio space and living quarters.
In contrast to this bright, airy space, the artist’s Specimen Series (2013) is installed in illuminated vitrines in a darkened gallery. These sculptures replicate appliances and fixtures in exacting detail and, like the larger installations, are constructed entirely out of polyester fabric over a stainless steel framework. For instance, in Specimen Series: Stove, Apartment A, 348 West 22nd Street, APT. New York, NY 10011 (2013), elements such as the stove top burners and control knobs are rendered with meticulous realism. At the same time, the ghostly translucency of the blue fabric comprising the sculpture lends a delicate, otherworldly air to what would otherwise be a heavy cast iron fixture.
The exhibition will also include a selection of works on paper, rendered in thread, watercolor, and pencil, as well as videos and a model from Suh’s 2012 work Secret Garden.
Do Ho Suh is organized by The Contemporary Austin with additional support by Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York and Hong Kong. Funding for the San Diego presentation is made possible by generous lead underwriting by Joan and Irwin Jacobs. Additional support has been provided by contributions to the annual Museum fund. Institutional support of MCASD is provided by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture and the County of San Diego Community Enhancement Fund.