"Do Ho Suh"
Do Ho Suh puts on an impressive exhibition for both novice art lovers and seasoned audiences
Reviewed by Caitlin Greenwood, Fri., Jan. 2, 2015
"Do Ho Suh"The Contemporary Austin – Jones Center, 700 Congress
Through Jan. 11
The Contemporary Austin's exhibition from Korean artist Do Ho Suh elevates and reimagines the ordinary. Much of Suh's work depicts home, or the lack thereof, in various forms. Inspired by the artist's own transience, with residences in New York, Seoul, and London, the exhibition emphasizes that home can truly be anywhere and anything.
"Do Ho Suh" consists of two parts: the main body of the show housed at the Jones Center and the individual piece Net-Work framing the floating barge at the base of Laguna Gloria's amphitheatre. While the separate sites suggest that the works at them be seen as independent of each other, the exhibition is best viewed holistically, with both sections considered as equal extensions of Suh's artistic versatility.
The Contemporary's show pulls from the artist's larger body of work to encompass drawings, installations, sculptures, and film. While Suh's installation work takes center stage here, his embroidered drawings offer quieter narrative vignettes that inform the exhibition as a whole. The My Homes series explores individual perceptions of home with bright bursts of color and dimensional texture.
The exhibit also includes the exciting finality of Suh's piece 348 West 22nd Street, which he began in 2011. This installation – undeniably the focal point of the show – is the full-scale model of the artist's apartments in New York City, represented in pink, blue, and yellow fabric. Audiences are welcome to tour the space, moving between rooms and taking in its sewn radiators, sinks, and bricks.
The details are remarkable. Type on a fuse box becomes magical through the softly hewn stitching. Oscillating fans in an AC unit soften under Suh's hand. It speaks to Heather Pesanti's expertise and finesse as a curator that the exhibition was able to secure the final chapter in the lifecycle of 348 West 22nd Street; it is an installation with the rich details that embody the ethos of Suh's artistic legacy.
If 348 West 22nd Street represents the comforting dreaminess of coming home, Suh's Specimen Series produces the opposite experience by putting the functional facets of a home (the toilet, bathtub, refrigerator, etc.) on stark display in light-glass boxes. Gone are any adopted affectations of home; this is the sharp confrontation of our fundamental furnishings – the uniformity of creature comforts exposed and magnified. Still, even here the details captivate: Circular tiles on a bathtub basin and knobs on an oven thoughtfully make an appearance.
Suh discards no detail and, as a result, offers audiences a new perspective on the facets of what physical and emotional structures help constitute a household. The Contemporary in general and Pesanti in particular are to be lauded for bringing such a notable artist to Austin and giving him so much room with which to sow his artistic seeds. In many ways, Do Ho Suh makes the bold statement to contemporary artists around the world: You have a new home in Austin, Texas.