Robert Koch Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of color photographs by Hong Kong based artist Michael Wolf from his 100 x 100 & Real Fake Art series. Each explores the complex cultural identity of China, from commercial elements of this new global economy to the social and economic implications of the urban density found there.
Shek Kip Mei Estate, Hong Kong’s oldest public housing estate, is composed of 100 rooms, each closet-like in size at only 100 square feet and was built in response to a devastating fire in the 1950s that left thousands homeless. 100 x 100 captures the residents of this housing complex who are almost enveloped by the diminishing space around them, their belongings stacked to the ceiling. Michael Wolf’s photographs offer a glimpse of daily life within Hong Kong’s “Architecture of Density” (Wolf’s earlier series) and present an alternate and more human perspective on the socio-economic state of Hong Kong. The repetition of each resident’s expression mirrors the repetition of the building and the city itself, where people struggle for space in an overpopulated urban environment and redefine the notion of “modern living.”
In his Real Fake Art series, Wolf departs from his previous explorations of urban density and addresses the recent explosion of copy artists in China. Wolf photographs artists posed in alleyways with their paintings – copies of masterpieces by Andy Warhol, Gerhard Richter, Roy Lichtenstein and other great Western artists. The multimillion-dollar copy art industry, fueled by commerce and international market demand, is a development that distinctly reflects the rise of a new global economy and the trend of mass production. The series uncovers the odd and subtle interplay between capitalism and the Chinese tradition of developing artistic skill by copying the works of master artists. Equally, these images engage the nature of art and representation itself, acting as metapictures much like the copy of the famous Magritte painting, shown in one the photographs, that proclaims “this is not a pipe.”
The Munich-born artist grew up in the United States, studying at UC Berkeley before earning a degree from the University of Essen in Germany. He won the World Press Photo Award and the American Photography Award in 2005, and has had solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, the Deutsches Architektur Museum in Frankfurt, the Museum der Arbeit in Hamburg, and the Bauhaus Museum in Dessau. His work is included in a number of prestigious collections, including The Metropolitan Museum Of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Deutsches Architektur Museum, the Milwaukee Art Museum and Museum Folkwang in Essen.