Anthony Gormley statues to be displayed on Hong Kong rooftops after banker's suicide caused delay

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 August, 2015, 6:20pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 August, 2015, 1:00pm

British artist Antony Gormley’s “naked man” statues will appear on Hong Kong rooftops this November, over a year after their original debut was cancelled when a trader for global bank J. P. Morgan jumped to his death from a building in Central.

Called Event Horizon, the 31 fibreglass and iron statues were made from life-size body casts of the artist. They were first shown in London in 2007, gazing down from places such as the top of the Southbank Centre and forcing the normally hectic commuter crowd to pause and wonder at the unexpected interruptions in the familiar urban skyline.

Since then, the public art display has travelled to New York, Rotterdam and Sao Paulo.

In 2014, sponsor Hongkong Land’s decision to pull the plug on the exhibition attracted worldwide attention; the company was believed to have withdrawn its support after Dennis Li Junjie, 33, jumped to his death from the top of Chater House, which belongs to the major Central landlord, in February of that year. Putting Gormley’s figures on the edge of Central rooftops was considered a very badly-timed exercise.

This time, Hongkong Land will not participate. Other Central landlords are expected to take part, though. People close to the project said the government had been approached to allow some of the figures to stand on top of some of Hong Kong’s most iconic public buildings. Precise locations would be available in September, they said. 

Gormley’s works are increasingly popular among Asian collectors. The artist, known for works including giant sculpture Angel of the North, displayed beside a motorway in northeast England, has been collected by M+, the future museum in the West Kowloon Cultural District. M+ announced last May that it had acquired Gormley’s “Asian Field” after receiving a US$1 million donation from an anonymous philanthropist.

Gormley will visit Hong Kong in November to launch Event Horizon. He will also deliver this year’s Central Saint Martins Cross Culture Lecture, which will be presented by Kai-Yin Lo, the well-known Hong Kong  designer who is visiting principal lecturer at the art college.