M+, Hong Kong’s new museum of twentieth-and twenty-first-century visual culture in the West Kowloon Cultural District, is pleased to announce Noguchi for Danh Vo: Counterpoint, to be held at the M+ Pavilion from 16 November 2018 to 22 April 2019. This exhibition, the eighth at the pavilion, is organised as a unique dialogue between two artists: Japanese American artist Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988), who is a central figure in the history of modern art, design, and landscape architecture, and Vietnamese Danish artist Danh Vo (born 1975), an original voice in contemporary art practice.

The exhibition articulates this conversation through a range of works by Noguchi that spans almost five decades, and that includes drawings, industrial design objects, and sculptures in stone, metal, and other materials. Vo’s contribution to the exhibition consists not only of select examples of his practice produced between 2010 and 2018, but also of building a bridge between two institutions and two cities—M+ in Hong Kong and The Noguchi Museum in New York. The exhibition is structured as a counterpoint, a musical term used to describe two separate melodies that interweave and complement each other while maintaining their respective independence. Noguchi and Vo here carry separate melodies, but their voices interweave at certain points in the spaces of the exhibition.

Noguchi for Danh Vo: Counterpoint is co-curated by Doryun Chong, Deputy Director, Curatorial, and Chief Curator, M+, in close collaboration with Danh Vo and Dakin Hart, Senior Curator at The Noguchi Museum in New York.

The exhibition features works exhibited in the gallery space of the M+ Pavilion as well as outside, in the Art Park of the West Kowloon Cultural District. The installation in the gallery is inspired by the scholar’s pavilion and garden—a leitmotif in traditional Chinese ink painting—imagining Vo as the resident scholar. The focal point inside the gallery is Vo’s Untitled (Structure for Akari PL2), a modified design of a traditional architectural form from Guizhou Province, in southwestern China. This small pavilion is adorned with PL2 model Akari lamps designed by Noguchi, forming an illuminated seating area, and it is surrounded by nearly three dozen selections from Noguchi’s practice produced between the 1920s and the 1980s. Works such as Cloud Mountain (1982–1983), made from galvanised steel; the collapsible, puzzle-like Strange Bird (1945, cast 1971); and the amorphous, allusive, alabaster Leda (1942) demonstrate Noguchi’s artistic versatility through diverse forms and materials.

The majority of the work by Vo is found outside the M+ Pavilion. Two modified shipping containers hold his carefully designed installations of works that represent various materialities and techniques, including a copper piece of We the People (detail) (2011–2016)—a reproduction at a one-to-one scale of the Statue of Liberty separated into more than three hundred fragments—a violently dismembered ancient marble sculpture, a gilded cardboard box, and a calligraphic rendering of the Cinderella story as told by the Grimm brothers. Vo’s presence outside the gallery is echoed by the Noguchi-designed Play Sculpture, installed nearby. This sculpture is one of the pieces that Noguchi developed for his utopian playscapes, meant for children and adults alike. It is installed through the run of the exhibition and beyond, and is intended as a preview of the larger playscape to come on the rooftop terrace of the M+ Building.

Suhanya Raffel, Executive Director of M+, emphasises the importance of the collaborative exhibition for the institutional growth of M+: ‘We are proud to have dedicated an exhibition to a dialogue of this kind—an exploration of one artist through the creative, imaginative force of another. This project is unique because of the specific collaborative relationship we have defined with Danh Vo, a critically acclaimed contemporary artist working internationally, and it is important as M+’s first collaboration with a major international partner: The Noguchi Museum. As we move steadily towards the delivery of the M+ building, significant institutional relationships and collaborations will ensure that curatorial and research initiatives are undertaken to reach broad audiences in Hong Kong, across Asia, and beyond.’

Doryun Chong, co-curator of the exhibition and Deputy Director, Curatorial, and Chief Curator, M+, articulates the significance of the transcultural narratives that the exhibition uncovers: ‘Both Isamu Noguchi and Danh Vo have displacement and transcultural movement at the core of their lives and practices. By placing these two artists in dialogue, we seek to emphasise that cultural meanings change despite our convictions and prejudices, and that the definition of art is never fixed or rigid. This approach is at the core of M+’s work. As a museum that is rooted in Hong Kong and focused on Asia, we have defined a global perspective that seeks to identify connections across cultures and contexts, and to create new adjacencies between practices and disciplines. The collaboration with Danh Vo and The Noguchi Museum in New York is a clear articulation of our mission.’

Complementary programmes, including a talk series, a teachers’ private viewing, and special guided tours, will accompany the exhibition. For more information, please visit www.mplus.org.hk/counterpoint.

Exhibition details

Noguchi for Danh Vo: Counterpoint has been organised by M+, in partnership with The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, New York.
Co-curated by: Doryun Chong, Deputy Director, Curatorial, and Chief Curator, M+; and Dakin Hart, Senior Curator, The Noguchi Museum; assisted by Sonia So, Assistant Curator, Visual Art, M+; Minnie Cheung, Curatorial Assistant, M+; Jessie Kwok, Curatorial Assistant, M+; and Jenny Wang, Intern, M+.

Graphic design: Studio Manuel Raeder, Berlin

Dates and times: 16 November 2018–22 April 2019
Wednesday to Sunday and public holidays.
(Closed on 25 December 2018, 1 January 2019, and 5–6 February 2019)
11am–6pm
Location: M+ Pavilion, West Kowloon Cultural District
Admission is free

Remarks

About Isamu Noguchi

Through a lifetime of progressive, socially charged artistic experimentation, Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988) was one of the leading sculptors and designers of the twentieth century. Born in Los Angeles to a Japanese father and an American mother and raised between Japan and the United States, he defined a peripatetic artistic career, with New York as his primary base. He created an extremely wide range of works, including industrial design objects, ceramics, monuments and installations for public space, landscape designs, set designs for the stage, and sculptures in stone, metal, and other materials. He easily moved across the boundaries of artistic disciplines in a practice that was resolutely global and multivalent, turning the entirety of his biracial, multinational, and transcultural condition into a source for creative work.

About Danh Vo

Danh Vo was born in southern Vietnam in 1975, shortly after the end of the war. In 1979, he left the country as a refugee with his family and settled in Denmark. He studied at the Kongelige Danske Kunstakademi (the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts) in Copenhagen and at the Städelschule in Frankfurt. He is critically acclaimed for work that conjures lesser-known or overlooked histories and biographies through conceptual adoptions of artefacts and found objects. In 2018, a solo exhibition of his work—titled Danh Vo: Take My Breath Away—was held at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and SMK (Statens Museum for Kunst, the national gallery of Denmark). He represented Denmark at the Venice Biennale in 2015 and was awarded the Hugo Boss Prize in 2012. He currently lives and works in Berlin and Mexico City.

About M+

M+ is a museum dedicated to collecting, exhibiting, and interpreting visual art, design and architecture, moving image, and Hong Kong visual culture of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. In Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District, we are building one of the largest museums of modern and contemporary visual culture in the world, with a bold ambition to establish ourselves as one of the world’s leading cultural institutions. Our aim is to create a new kind of museum that reflects our unique time and place, a museum that builds on Hong Kong’s historic balance of the local and the international to define a distinctive and innovative voice for Asia’s twenty-first century.

About the West Kowloon Cultural District

Located on Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour, the West Kowloon Cultural District is one of the largest cultural projects in the world. Its vision is to create a vibrant new cultural quarter for Hong Kong. With a complex of theatres, performance spaces, and museums, the West Kowloon Cultural District will produce and host world-class exhibitions, performances, and cultural events, as well as provide 23 hectares of public open space, including a two-kilometre waterfront promenade.

Curators

About Doryun Chong

Doryun Chong is Deputy Director, Curatorial, and Chief Curator, M+. Appointed as the inaugural Chief Curator in 2013, Chong oversees all curatorial activities and programmes, including acquisitions, exhibitions, learning and public programmes, and digital initiatives encompassing the museum’s three main disciplinary areas of design and architecture, moving image, and visual art.  Some of the exhibitions he has curated or co-curated at M+ include Mobile M+: Live Art (2015), Tsang Kin-Wah: The Infinite Nothing, Hong Kong in Venice (2015), and Samson Young: Songs for Disaster Relief World Tour (2018). Prior to joining M+, Chong worked in various curatorial capacities at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis (2003–2009) and the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2009–2013).

About Dakin Hart

Dakin Hart is Senior Curator at The Noguchi Museum, New York, where he oversees the museum’s exhibitions, collections, catalogue raisonné, archives, and public programming, and has the daily good fortune of collaborating with Isamu Noguchi in absentia. Noguchi Museum exhibitions organised by Hart include Akari: Sculpture by Other Means (2018); Self-Interned, 1942: Noguchi at Poston War Relocation Center (2017); Isamu Noguchi: Archaic/Modern for the Smithsonian American Art Museum (2016–2017); Noguchi à la Brancusi for Paul Kasmin Gallery (2016–2017); Tom Sachs: Tea Ceremony (2016); Museum of Stones (2015–2016); and Isamu Noguchi at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (2015). His previous positions include Assistant Director at the Nasher Sculpture Center (Dallas), Artistic Director and Director of Artists in Residence at the Montalvo Arts Center (Saratoga, California), and Assistant to the Director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. He has also worked as an independent curator and writer.