Gormley works may come to Hong Kong despite controversy following suicide

Sponsor withdraws funding for installation 'Event Horizon' following banker's death

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 May, 2014, 3:12am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 May, 2014, 3:12am

Hongkongers may yet be able to view British sculptures lining the city's skyline despite the exit of the exhibition's main sponsor - apparently due to the morbidity of the artworks.

The artist, Antony Gormley, holds out hope of bringing in the 31 human-sized figures that, because they are often mistaken for suicidal individuals, have drawn parallels to the death of a J.P. Morgan banker in February.

Property company Hongkong Land, which has a major client in the US investment bank, is withdrawing funding for the "Event Horizon" art installation.

J.P. Morgan reportedly objected to the sponsorship after one of its Hong Kong staff, Dennis Li Junjie, 33, fell from a Hongkong Land building in Central.

"Antony still hopes to bring the project to Hong Kong," said Eleanor Macnair, a spokeswoman for the White Cube gallery, which was involved in the logistics of Gormley's project.

"In some ways, it will be a nice surprise to see where the sculptures are going to be at the time."

A spokesman for Gormley described Hong Kong as an "exciting proposition", with a combination of high-rise buildings in a context of mountains and sea that made the city an ideal venue.

Hongkong Land declined to comment on an individual case.

"The decision on supporting any arts and culture or community programme is subject to different factors and criteria," a spokeswoman said.

"The company receives and reviews such proposals regularly and, until a decision is made, all details remain confidential amongst the concerned parties."

J.P. Morgan declined to comment and redirected enquiries to Hongkong Land.

Gormley's noted sculptures include the 66-foot-tall steel Angel of the North. The "Event Horizon" project, expected to last five months, was to have coincided with his first exhibition in Hong Kong, which closed on May 3.

His life-sized sculpture tour has travelled to London, New York and Sao Paulo (pictured).

Macnair said: "As you can imagine in the city, it is a massive logistical operation to get permissions and clearance, to work out if [the sculptures] are safe [on the rooftop], and to get the venues confirmed."