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Erwin Wurm's first solo exhibition in Hong Kong opens at Lehmann Maupin
Erwin Wurm, Stone, 2019. acrystal and stone. 11.81 x 12.2 x 8.66 inches / 30 x 31 x 22 cm. Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, and Seoul.

HONG KONG.- Erwin Wurm’s first solo exhibition in Hong Kong opened today at Lehmann Maupin Hong Kong. For this exhibition, the Austrian artist who has redefined the categories of sculpture and performance art premieres recent sculpture and photography from his most iconic series. Each week, visitors will be invited to activate one of Wurm’s One Minute Sculptures by mimicking a unique pose with a typical household item, with the durational sculpture captured in a Polaroid photo that may be taken home. This exhibition represents the artist’s return to China after nearly a decade since his 2010 solo exhibition at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing. Erwin Wurm will also be featured in the Lehmann Maupin booth (1C21) at Art Basel Hong Kong, opening March 29 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Wurm has produced a body of work that explores the exciting possibilities of sculpture, pushing the boundaries of this static art form to incorporate participatory, temporal, and psychological elements. As an artist, Wurm is interested in conditions that test the limits of form and evoke the absurdity that can be found in the routine and mundane actions of everyday life. For Wurm, all forms, including our own bodies, can be considered and activated as sculpture. Famous works like Fat House (2003) and Fat Car (2001) exemplify this point, making our most iconic architecture and design susceptible to the biological processes of a human body, in this case the visual effects of gaining weight. Wurm will also often attribute human traits to inanimate objects, by giving human appendages to luxury handbags or moss-covered boulders as a way to demonstrate the socially reinforced implications that these objects hold through enticing anthropomorphic forms.

For this exhibition, Wurm has produced new cast metal sculptures from his Abstract Sculpture series, depicting sausages with human features that highlight the absurdity behind common references or figures of speech. These works hint at both the cultural associations of the sausage and the Bavarian region he is from, as well as the form’s relationship to the body as a phallus. This psychological extension of the self onto objects, and vice versa, is a critical component of Wurm’s oeuvre, in which he uses humor and the projection of human emotions and ego to hint at deeper, more existential issues.

Wurm’s interest in the absurdity that can be found in mundane scenarios of daily life has deep roots in his One Minute Sculptures, which were the focus of Wurm’s presentation for the Austrian Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale. These sculptures require a participant to enact simple yet outlandish poses with an object for one minute. The precision with which the participant is able to execute the pose determines the success of the sculpture, which exists for only its enacted duration, and in the original photographic documentation. Despite its title role in the series, the actual timeframe of one minute is less important than the participant’s awareness and reaction to the time passing while enacting the sculpture, and their own experience of being on display as an artwork. In this regard, this series democratizes a medium traditionally used to commemorate significant, historical figures. Wurm’s work thus challenges this long-standing function by allowing any individual to become a work of art. In addition to the opportunity for the public in Hong Kong to engage in their own One Minute Sculptures, a series of Polaroid photographs depicting Wurm and others enacting them are on view.

Erwin Wurm (b. 1954 Bruck an der Mur/Styria, Austria; lives and works in Vienna and Limberg, Austria) graduated from University of Graz, Austria, in 1977, and Gestaltungslehre University of Applied Art and Academy of Fine Art, Vienna in 1982. Solo exhibitions of his work have been recently been organized at Albertina Museum, Vienna (2018); Storage by HyundaiCard, Seoul (2018); 21er Haus, Belvedere, Vienna (2017); Museum Küppersmühle für Moderne Kunst, Duisburg, Germany (2017); Leopold Museum, Vienna (2017); Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Săo Paulo, Brazil (2017); Berlinische Galerie, Berlin (2016); Schindler House, MAK Center for Art and Architecture, West Hollywood, CA (2016); Bangkok Art and Culture Center, Thailand (2016); Indianapolis Museum of Art, IL (2015); Museum of Contemporary Art in Kraków, Poland (2013); Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga, Spain (2012); and Dallas Contemporary, TX (2012). Select group exhibitions featuring his work include Performing for the Camera, Tate Modern, London (2016); Precarious Balance, Centre of Contemporary Art, Christchurch, New Zealand (2016); Desire for Freedom, Museum of Contemporary Art in Kraków, Poland (2013); HEIMsuchung: Uncanny Spaces in Contemporary Art, Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany (2013); The Original Copy: Photography of Sculpture, 1839 to Today, Kunsthaus Zürich, Switzerland, traveled to The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2011); and Temporary Structures: Performing Architecture in Contemporary Art, deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, MA (2011). Wurm’s work is in numerous international public and private collections, including Tate Modern, London; Albertina, Vienna; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga, Spain; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Kunsthaus Zürich, Switzerland; Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany; Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna, Italy; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada; and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.

In 2011, Wurm’s “Narrow House” was installed at the Palazzo Cavalli Franchetti as part of Glasstress 2011, a collateral event of the 54th Venice Biennale. In 2017, Wurm returned to Venice for the 57th Biennale, where he represented Austria.

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