Danh Vo - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in Association with Poly Auction Hong Kong Thursday, December 3, 2020 | Phillips

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  • Danh Vō was born in 1975, the same year as the fall of Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam. Amidst the Sino-Vietnamese conflict, he fled Vietnam on a wooden boat built by his father. Fortunately, when adrift in the Pacific Ocean, he was rescued by a Danish freighter and later received political asylum. Eventually, he settled in Denmark. Shaped by such a remarkable background, Danh Vō often creates works based upon his personal experiences to explore the roles, relationships, and conditions of ethnicity, culture, politics, faith, identity, authority and belonging.


    Danh Vo, Untitled, 2015
    Danh Vō, Untitled, 2015

    In Whisky & Soda, one of his best-known series of works, Danh Vō lavishly applies gold leaf onto cardboard boxes of prestigious Western brands to insinuate how economic globalisation is actually a way for Western culture to conquer Southeast Asia. In addition to using trademarks of Western brands, Danh Vō has also employed the American flag and the Latin alphabet in his gold-leaf-on-cardboard creations. As gold leaf is often used to adorn religious objects in Southeast Asia, its application implies that the full-scale invasions of brands or cultures though merely airbrushed cheap objects are intended to arouse spiritual worship. This act has imbued mundane packaging with a new form of life. Created with used cardboard boxes of Japanese Suntory whisky and Canada Dry soda, and pasted with gold leaf by craftsmen in Thailand, this series appears simple yet carries the weight of history, commerce and colonialism.


    Andy Warhol, Brillo Box (Soap Pads), 1964
    Andy Warhol, Brillo Box (Soap Pads), 1964. Collection of The Museum of Modern Art, New York © 2020 Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


    Robert Rauschenberg, Untitled (Gold Painting), ca. 1953. © 2017 Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art.
    Robert Rauschenberg, Untitled, ca. 1953. Collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York © 2020 Robert Rauschenberg Foundation

    Today, Danh Vō’s artworks are highly sought-after by Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Museum of Modern Art, New York. His creative process - associating commerce with daily commodities - readily reminds people of Andy Warhol’s Brillo Soap Pads Box and Robert Rauschenberg’s collage technique. Just as he once stated, “I don’t believe that things come from within you; to me, things come out of the continuous dialogue you have with your surroundings.” i Danh Vō’s creations have become vehicles for communication and the interpretation of ideas. Through the juxtaposition of these encounters and conflicts, he believes that cultures do not share equal status, but have always been tied to the complex struggle between confrontation and opposition. With his keen and unique perspective on the language of creation, Danh Vō materialises his doubts and compromises with society.

    i Danh Vō, quoted in Daisy Jones, “Danh Vō’s Cinderella story”, Dazed, August 2014.

    • Provenance

      Take Ninagawa, Tokyo
      Acquired from the above by the present owner


Whisky & Soda

gold leaf on cardboard box
Whisky (assembled) 41.6 x 28.6 x 29 cm. (16 3/8 x 11 1/4 x 11 3/8 in.)
Soda (assembled) 41.6 x 23.2 x 29 cm. (16 3/8 x 9 1/8 x 11 3/8 in.)

Executed in 2013.

Full Cataloguing

HK$1,000,000 - 1,500,000 

Contact Specialist

Danielle So
Associate Specialist, Head of Day Sale

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in Association with Poly Auction

Hong Kong Auction 4 December 2020