• Zaha Hadid – There Should Be No End to Experimentation

    20 January 2017

    ‘With experimentation, you think you’re going to find out one thing, but you actually discover something else … more than you bargain for’ Zaha Hadid


    The Serpentine Galleries and Zaha Hadid Design are proud to bring their critically acclaimed exhibition of early paintings and drawings by the late Zaha Hadid to Hong Kong. First conceived with Hadid herself, this “revelation” (London Evening Standard) of a show has been newly expanded with additional archival material. The exhibition is the closing presentation for ArtisTree, the arts space in the heart of the city’s Taikoo Place by exhibition presenting partner Swire Properties, before it is relocated to a new address.

    17 MARCH – 6 APRIL 2017


    While Zaha Hadid (1950-2016) is rightly regarded as an architectural pioneer and visionary, this unique Serpentine presentation also reveals her as an artist with drawing at the very heart of her work. The work includes paintings, calligraphic drawings and rarely seen private notebooks with sketches that show her complex thoughts about architecture’s forms and relationships.

    The exhibition, brought to Hong Kong in association with JP Morgan Private Bank, focuses on Hadid’s early works before her first building (Vitra Fire Station, Germany) was erected in 1993. Ranging from the 1970s to the early 1990s, the paintings and drawings on show include Hadid’s first internationally acclaimed project, The Peak (1982-3), awarded first prize in a design competition for a leisure club in the Hong Kong hills – marking a critical moment in Hadid’s career.

    Drawing and painting were fundamental to Hadid’s practice. Influenced by Malevich, Tatlin and Rodchenko, she used calligraphic drawings as the main method for visualising her architectural ideas. For Hadid, painting was a design tool, and abstraction an investigative structure for imagining architecture and its relationship to the world we live in. These works on paper and canvas unravel an architecture that Hadid was determined to realise in built structures and that was later seen in the characteristic lightness and weightlessness of her buildings. Conceived as Hadid’s manifesto of a utopian world, the show reveals her all-encompassing visions of space and reality.

    “This survey of Zaha Hadid’s experimental 2D work is a revelation … Hadid’s paintings and drawings, which sit somewhere between art, architecture and design, compellingly fuse fantasy and science”
    Evening Standard

    “This exhibition provides an unparalleled insight into the creative process of the architect’s early years, revealing how a strange calligraphy was incubated in her notebooks, an esoteric universe of dots, dashes and swirls, before leaping off the page into working drawings, and wall-sized paintings”
    The Guardian

    Technology and innovation have always been central to the work of Zaha Hadid Architects, and many of Hadid’s paintings prefigure the potential of these digital processes. Connecting directly with the individual paintings in this exhibition, four experimental virtual reality experiences have been specially developed in collaboration with Google Arts & Culture, offering a dynamic and immersive insight into Hadid’s architectural vision.

    Building on this commitment to technology, a dedicated mobile tour will also be available as part of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ ongoing digital engagement programme at the Serpentine Galleries. Available through visitors’ mobile phones, the mobile tour offers ArtisTree visitors an interactive gallery experience including stories, audio clips and additional drawings from the Hadid collection. In addition, a screening room in the exhibition featuring exclusive footage from the Zaha Hadid archive, will also be made available.

    These interactive components are supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies through its Bloomberg Connects programme, a global initiative that helps cultural institutions innovate and engage audiences by leveraging digital technology.

    Marking the first presentation of Hadid’s early works in China, this timely homage first opened in 2016 to record London audiences at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, extended and renovated in 2013 by Zaha Hadid Architects.

    Hans Ulrich Obrist, Serpentine Artistic Director and Yana Peel, CEO said: “We are honoured to bring this expanded exhibition of our friend and long-term collaborator Zaha Hadid to Hong Kong – the very place that launched her reputation as a global architectural pioneer. Her declaration that ‘there should be no end to experimentation’ has not only become a mantra for the Serpentine Galleries but is the basis on which this showcase of Zaha’s visionary talent and legacy was conceived in her own lifetime.”

    Guy Bradley, Chief Executive of Swire Properties, said: “Swire Properties is a long-term supporter of the arts, and we are delighted to partner with Serpentine Galleries and Zaha Hadid Design for the first time to bring Zaha Hadid’s visionary work to Hong Kong, our home market. Zaha left an indelible mark on modern architecture, and her experimental style resonates closely with our own approach of taking bold steps to transform spaces.”

    Don Taylor, Director of Office at Swire Properties, said: “We’re very proud to present Zaha Hadid’s rarely seen works at ArtisTree before it moves to a new home. We felt it only fitting that her achievements be showcased as the finale programme for our much-loved event space ArtisTree at Taikoo Place, which has brought an extraordinary array of artistic and cultural events to the Hong Kong community.”


    Natural and Organic: Red Dunes Playtopia Video credit: CHENIN Studio

    World Architecture Festival 2022 took place in Lisbon, the 2023 edition will hold from 29 Nov - 1 Dec at Singapore.


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