Tobias Wong’s cheeky art/design comes home

July 23, 2012

Tobias Wong’s clever art/design comes home
Museum of Vancouver to hold first solo exhibition of the forerunner of conceptual design


(VANCOUVER, BC) – Opening this September 20, 2012, the Museum of Vancouver (MOV) is pleased to present the first time solo exhibition of internationally acclaimed, Vancouver-born artist, Tobias Wong in Object(ing): The art/design of Tobias Wong.

Wong has been lauded as “contemporary design’s most nimble provocateur” by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and is considered a forerunner of conceptual design. He appropriated, manipulated, manufactured, mass-produced, and re-issued everyday objects — from candies and dollar bills to box cutters and neon signs — pouring new meanings into them in the process. Like many pioneers, his art both seduced and upset.

“Tobias’ work and artistic trajectory are fascinating,” explains Viviane Gosselin, senior curator and project lead at the MOV. “I view Tobias as a poet who didn’t play with words but with objects; most of the time, familiar ones. He took the mundane, the utilitarian, and turned it into incredible sculptures. People ‘get it’ because it’s funny or it connects to popular culture and current events. However, more deeply considered, you can see all these clever references to the history of art/design.”

Although Wong was a ‘Vancouver boy’, his work is better known internationally than in his hometown. Leaving when he was 20 to study architecture in Toronto, he eventually moved to NYC to attend the sculpture program at the prestigious Cooper Union School of Art in 1998. His career soon took off in a big way provoking responses from globally recognized designers like Alessi, Philippe Starck and Karim Rashid and brands including Burberry. Wong kept close ties with friends, family, and collaborators in Vancouver. He came back regularly and worked with people here.

The show will feature over 50 pieces, including well known items like Bulletproof Quilted Duvet, the Ottoman, the “I Want to Change the World” book, and This is a Lamp. Some items have been re-issued specifically for this project (based on documentation and assistance of original collaborators). Reissuing works will allow new audiences to see pieces like Room Partition, the Anus sign that hung in the window of his East Village apartment, Chocolate Wood produced in collaboration with Chocolate Arts , and a series of candies created for Papabubble, a high end candy store based in NYC.

Wong passed away suddenly in 2010 at age 35 in his home in New York City. The MOV has been incredibly fortunate to work with close friends, collaborators, family and guest curator and project instigator Todd Falkowsky in making this exhibition a reality. The exhibition has mobilized the participation of over 50 collectors, curators, and artists from Vancouver, NYC, San Francisco, UK, and elsewhere, including pop culture commentator and artist Douglas Coupland and senior curator of design from the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Paola Antonelli.

"I no longer worry about what title people give me,
I’m happy being whatever fits the context.
I don’t draft or create models/prototypes,
I don’t problem solve,
and I definitely don’t make things to make life easier."
— Tobias Wong


Large format images of Tobias Wong and his work are available on request.

The Museum of Vancouver is an independent non-profit organization which holds a mirror to the city and leads provocative conversations about its past, present, and future.

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Monday, July 23, 2012