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Do Ho Suh - Woven Marvel

Words:

Edd Norval
November 17, 2021

Do Ho Suh’s intricate installations stand like ghostly remnants of buildings. As detailed and architecturally marvellous as anything made from brick and mortar, the Korean’s art is meditative and reflective - as much about the forms he creates as the spaces left behind.

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One of the artist’s main themes is the concept of home. This can be understood as home, the physical space and home as a feeling. A part of this invisible sense of home comes through the artist’s choice to suffuse autobiographical details into his work, creating a deeply personal narrative that mightn’t be immediately recognisable to observers. 


His deftness of hand and subtlety of ideas evokes a poetic sensibility, an awareness in his audience that these ruminative creations are to be thought through, not simply glazed over. In doing this, the artist manifests one of the key facets of a space that we call a home - the idea that we are inclined to spend time there.

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Son to Suh Se-Ok, who led a movement in the 1960s that combined traditional oriental art with more emergent abstract concepts, was both opportunity and burden for the young artist. His father’s reputation paved the way for his own philosophy that incorporates elements of tradition and innovation - yet when Do Ho Suh moved to the US in 1991, the distance created gave the budding artist a rejuvenated sense of freedom.


Despite its deeply elegant style, Do Ho Suh’s work has an element of utilitarianism about it, at least in his influences. Often carrying a notepad, a habit he has never lost from his days in university, the artist makes sketches as he travels from one location to another - mainly of architecture - exploring its relationship with the space around it and the identity of building, people and place. 


This concept is discernible in his gallery works, with many of his pieces having been talked about as being ‘missed’ or overlooked, such is their faint and delicate presence. When one does focus on his pieces, particularly in those of a larger scale - it’s almost impossible to imagine how anybody couldn’t have been snared by the elegiac presence.

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Considering the ways that architecture fits into our lives allows the Korean to deepen his understanding of how people can become integrated with place. Manifesting his conception of interconnectedness, Do Ho Suh weaves together his depictions of interiors and exteriors, placing us, the viewer, inside his world. 


In these spaces, we can either recognise, or feel alien in, each of the locales. This is where we, as an audience, are challenged to examine what we would consider as home. Or, in the case that we don’t feel an affinity with one of Do Ho Suh’s spaces, what about this particular space that doesn't feel like home and why?


Home is something we attach certain feelings to. Certain smells, certain people and particular events. In this artist’s work, home becomes a concept - his facades and forms are things that we can both think of in terms of an autobiographical rendition of his own life and a framework with which to base our own understanding of that dearest idea, home.

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