An exhibition of Zaha Hadid's early artworks in Hong Kong sheds light on the late architect's radical vision
BY SOPHIE DAVIES
The late great Iraqi-born, British architect Zaha Hadid may be gone, but her influence has not been forgotten. 'Zaha Hadid: There Should Be No End To Experimentation', an inspiring exhibition of Hadid's early paintings and drawings at Hong Kong's ArtisTree gallery, shows the futuristic scope of her vision, with bold, kinetic works poised between architecture, art and sci-fi. Originally devised for London's Serpentine Sackler Gallery in collaboration with Zaha Hadid Design, the hit retrospective has been newly expanded with extra archival material, allowing Asian audiences to share the inner workings of Hadid's mind.
ABOVE: 'Confetti, The Peak', Hong Kong, China, 1982/1983
ABOVE FROM TOP: 'Metropolis', 1988; 'Vision for Madrid', Spain, 1992
First conceived with Hadid herself – who died suddenly on 31 March 2016 – this revelation of an exhibition focusses on the early years of her career, before her first building (Germany's Vitra Fire Station) was erected in 1993. Spanning the Seventies to the Nineties, it includes paintings, sketches, calligraphic drawings and private notebooks, revealing Hadid's utopian ideas about architectural form and function during a period when her radical, pioneering works were either not commissioned or were unbuildable in terms of technology. A highlight is Hadid's award-winning scheme for The Peak (1982-83), a leisure club for the Hong Kong hills awarded first prize in a prestigious design competion.
ABOVE FROM TOP: Concept painting, Cardiff Bay Opera House, Wales, UK, 1994-1996; Sketch selection, from Sketchbook 2001
Inspired by Kasimir Malevich and Russian Constructivist artists Alexander Rodchenko and Vladimir Tatlin, Hadid used drawing and painting to generate and communicate her ideas. Her paper and canvas creations were design tools, feeling the way towards as-yet-unrealised buildings. When she did go on to build in 3D, the sweeping, light, space-age volumes of her abstract art came to fruition in the flesh. Four experimental virtual reality experiences, developed with Google Arts & Culture, also bring Hadid's dynamic vision to life, alongside a mobile tour. 'With experimentation, you think you're going to find out one thing,' said Hadid, 'but you actually discover something else... more than you bargain for.'
ABOVE: 'Hafenstrasse Development', Hamburg, Germany, 1989
BELOW: The Zaha Hadid exhibition in Hong Kong, a collaboration between London's Serpentine Galleries and Zaha Hadid Design
Free exhibition 'Zaha Hadid: There Should Be No End To Experimentation' is at ArtisTree, 1F Cornwall House, Taikoo Place, 979 King's Road, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong, until 6 April 2017; open daily 10am to 9pm