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Arts of Asia

The MFAH collections of art from China, India, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia reflect Houston’s diverse communities. Ancient and contemporary works are displayed together to create innovative juxtapositions.


© Do Ho Suh, courtesy Lehmann Maupin Gallery
Korean, born 1962
Urethane paint on fiberglass and resin

153 1/2 x 118 x 291 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Museum purchase with funds provided by the
Caroline Wiess Law Accessions Endowment Fund

Arts of Asia

Do-Ho Suh addresses issues of identity, memory, and relationships. Son of the famous Korean ink-painter Suh Se-Ok, Do-Ho Suh is a leading figure in the transnational avant-garde generation of Korean artists who came of age in the late 1990s, and his work eloquently represents a dual consciousness between East and West.

An imposing sculpture, Karma extends from the ceiling to the floor: Two large legs, seen in mid-stride, walk across the gallery on top of hundreds of Lilliputian figures. Although at first Karma might seem like a commentary on authoritarian rule or military oppression, literally depicting the downtrodden masses, the large figure’s suit pants and dress shoes dispel this notion. Furthermore, the tiny figures seem to run ahead of the marching foot, anticipating his next step and reaching up in a gesture of support. Subverting typical expectations of power relations, the figures (both large and small) exist in interdependence, proceeding forward together. Karma invites the viewer to experience the gallery space in a new way. By projecting from the floor to the ceiling, by creating a sense of forward movement, Karma calls attention to the way people experience museum space, emphasizing the tension between an individual’s personal space and the larger space shared by the public.