Bristol’s Museum and Art Gallery had shown Do Ho Suh in 2015, I hadn’t heard of him before, and was very surprised by the exhibition. I was looking forward to seeing his work again, but anticipated it would be similar to what I had seen before. Did I necessarily need to see it again? There are so many shows to see in London, perhaps I should go to one of the others on my long list of, try to see.
It is almost like seeing the x-rays of architecture, but not in a scientific way, more ephemeral. We were reminded by the fleeting delicacy of this work by the gallery attendants, as we were herded through the fabric structures of brightly coloured polyester.
It was intensely busy for a commercial gallery, and perhaps this work would be better suited to a permanent collection, as people want to experience it. If there is an afterlife, I am sure this is how the buildings would look. And perhaps that was the appeal, like moths to light.
I was not expecting to see works on paper, and these were just as inventive as his structures. Thread drawing, gelatine sheet embedded on STPI handmade cotton paper. These were pressed architectural details of apartment entrances which you might find squished in the middle of a book, like one does with flowers. Much too large for a book, roughly 150 x 100 inches.
Architectural replicas of memory, place and questions of identity. If these pieces weren’t so beautiful, you might get a better sense of displacement. Just passing through. Even the delicate structure hints at the lack of anchored structure one desires from a shelter. The steel structures themselves are very reminiscent of tenting.
Equally as beautiful and technically competent, was a drawing titled, My Homes. This showed an almost metamorphosis of three dwellings. Were they actual places in which he lived? I am not interested to debate that actual question, but they were empty spaces, just like his fabric structures. Perhaps more reflective on time, like snake skins.