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  • Provenance

    Galerie Buchholz, Berlin
    Private Collection, Europe
    Private Collection, London
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    “I see myself, like any other person, as a container that has inherited these infinite traces of history without inheriting any direction.” - Danh Vo

    Danh Vo is an artist whose works forge links between the multifarious strands of his cultural identity—one that finds its roots in Vietnam but which developed in Denmark. His works investigate the nuanced spaces created in cultural displacement and migration, and explore the broader implications of the consequences of global importation and exportation of both goods and ideas: particularly fitting and symptomatic of the 21st Century.

    Illustrated by Alphabet (Z) are Vo’s principal ideas of coexistence or perhaps convergence—where discarded Vietnamese cardboard boxes are lined with opulent gold leaf, and ironically given the same treatment as sanctified objects in Southeast Asia. In so doing, the artist’s Alphabet (Z) interweaves reality with ideality, seamlessly contextualising revered traditions with modern-day sensibilities and preoccupations. This idea of concomitance of realities/ idealities is furthered by the letter Z. Dominating the foreground, it is extrapolated from the Bowditch alphabet as standardised in the maritime community in the early 19th century. This global language facilitated the centralisation of communication between the West and the East, supporting international trade and ultimately heralding colonisation.

    Vo’s oeuvre is one that ultimately amalgamates the personal, the cultural, and the historical: “I don’t really believe in my own story, not as a singular thing anyway. It weaves in and out of other people’s private stories of local history and geopolitical history. I see myself, like any other person, as a container that has inherited these infinite traces of history without inheriting any direction. I try to compensate for this, I’m trying to make sense out of it and give it a direction for myself.” (Danh Vo, quoted in Francesca Pagliuca, “No Way Out: An Interview with Danh Vo,” Mousse Magazine, February 2009, online)

Property of an Important European Collector


Alphabet (Z)

gold leaf on unfolded cardboard box
91 x 213 cm (35 7/8 x 83 7/8 in.)
Executed in 2011.

HK$1,500,000 - 2,500,000 

Sold for HK$2,840,000

Contact Specialist
Jonathan Crockett
Deputy Chairman, Asia and Head of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Asia
+852 2318 2023

Sandy Ma
Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+852 2318 2025

General Enquiries
+852 2318 2000

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 28 May 2017