The Gates of Hell (Cổng Địa Ngục) is an iron gate made in the French art deco style that was absorbed by Vietnam in the 1920s and 1930s. On the gate are the words “École Supérieure des Beaux Arts” and “Indo Chine,” in homage to a colonial school which existed from 1925 to 1945 in Hanoi, and that produced many of Vietnam’s early modern artists. As well as remarking on the schools's impact on creativity in Vietnam, the gate also powerfully highlights complications ushered in by colonialism, as the Vietnamese words “Cổng Địa Ngục,” or “The Gates of Hell,” are positioned at the top of the gate. As such the central geometrical design motif can be seen as the paintbrush on one hand, or the spear on the other.
The work shares the same title as Auguste Rodin's sculpture. According to the Musée Rodin, Indochina was one of his final passions.
Included in the exhibition, Departures.
De Sarthe Gallery, Hong Kong
Departures May 26 - July 8, 2017
Iron with Black Patina. 200 x 150 cm