Do Ho Suh
Korean, born 1962
Bronze, edition 1/3
Height: 276 inches (701 cm)
Bequest of Arthur B. Michael, by exchange, 2010
On View on the Gallery Grounds
Do Ho Suh travels between continents and traverses hemispheres so often that "home" and "away" are not easily defined. This frequent relocation, although explained by the artist as always being a painful transition, enables him to gain the perspective of critical distance that cannot exist in continuously common or familiar surroundings. This frequent displacement is an integral part of Suh's life, and drives many of the ideas that substantiate his work. For Suh, displacement brings with it, among other things, the questioning of identity, individualism, community, place, and space.
Karma, 2010, a twenty-three-foot-high, monumental bronze sculpture, appears at first to be a graceful curvature, rising up in a trajectory that defies normal structural integrity. Closer inspection of the work reveals that is it composed of a striding human figure that carries on his shoulders a series of crouching figures, perched one on top the other. Each figure holds his hands over the eyes of the figure beneath him, as if to show that humanity's reliance on its fellow man is not only essential—we all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us—but a complete and terrifying leap of faith. This leap of faith is especially evident in the dangerous degree to which this chain of humanity is stretching into a gravity-defying arch.
These linked forms essentially reflect the intertwining of our lives and the karmic truth of connection. Suh may not directly or explicitly insert the philosophical traditions of Buddhism into his work, but he did grow up in South Korea, where Buddhism is one of the many Eastern philosophical traditions embedded in everyday life. In fact, Karma can be seen as a visual representation of how each of our lives and past experiences are not autonomous, but are built up, one upon the other.
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