Sunday, May 25, 2014

Antony Gormley, 'States and Conditions' - White Cube Hong Kong

At the end of March I attended the opening of the Antony Gormley exhibition at the White Cube in Central, Hong Kong.

As I reached the entrance of the gallery I was presented with an obstacle. One of Gormley’s sculptures Ease (2012) was lying prone on the floor almost blocking the entrance and I realised that this was a clue to the identity of the exhibition inside.

As the press release stated: ‘White Cube is pleased to present an exhibition of new work by Antony Gormley. With ‘States and Conditions, Hong Kong’, Gormley turns the entire gallery architecture into a psychic and physiological testing ground, using sculpture to animate space and activate the built environment. The exhibition is designed to resonate within the dense urban conditions particular to Hong Kong’.

I could feel this resonance as I walked around the exhibition. The small sculpture Form (2013) exploded in the downstairs gallery to become Murmur (2014), while other works seemed to be merging with the architecture of the gallery. Gormley plays with the volumes of space that our bodies occupy and with the way these volumes can be described, either as solid blocks or skeletal frames delineating specific chunks of space.

The vertical sculptures found in the final upstairs room seemed to fluctuate between representations of the space that Gormely’s body once occupied and the buildings of Hong Kong that surround the gallery.
Our bodies are an amalgam of connected blocks that together constitute our presence and this construct can be taken inwards on a micro scale or outwards, from the sculptures, the rooms of the gallery (which resembles one of Gormley’s sculptures when pictured in our mind), and the surrounding city.

This was a terrific exhibition, one of the best I have ever seen in Hong Kong and it is such a great pity that the planned project ‘Event Horizon Hong Kong’ was cancelled due to pressure from the sponsor after an employee committed suicide by leaping from one their buildings. Hopefully one day Hong Kong will realise that these associations and references, however unfortunate, are part of the power and significance of the works, they are not a coincidence!

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