The MFAH Unveils Do Ho Suh’s “Portal”: A Gateway of Memory and Transition

February 7, 2024

An installation by artist Do Ho Suh, titled "Portal," is displayed at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The translucent sculpture, meticulously crafted to resemble an architectural gateway, stands tall with detailed carvings and a ghostly appearance, allowing viewers to see through its ethereal structure.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) proudly announces the installation of "Portal" by the visionary artist Do Ho Suh, a commission that has been over a decade in the making. This "impossible" sculpture, as described by the artist, is now gracing the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building, symbolizing a bridge between traditional Korean heritage and contemporary artistic exploration.

A Monumental Achievement

Do Ho Suh, Portal, 2015, acrylic resin, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Museum commission funded by the Caroline Wiess Law Accessions Endowment Fund and gift of the artist. © 2015 Do Ho Suh.

Nine tons in weight, "Portal" stands as a testament to the collaborative spirit and dedication that brought it to life. Commissioned in 2006, this artwork was produced with the combined efforts of collaborators from Maryland, New York, and Colorado, culminating in its unveiling alongside two other major works commissioned for the opening of the Kinder Building – pieces by Ólafur Elíasson's "Sometimes an underground movement is an illuminated bridge" and Ai Weiwei's "Dragon Reflection" (both 2020).

The Essence of "Portal"

Do Ho Suh's creation defies conventional art forms by encapsulating the negative space of a traditional Korean gate in solid acrylic resin. This eleven-foot-high, nine-ton sculpture captures the essence of light and reflection, creating a transparent yet monumental presence that invites viewers into a realm of intangible qualities such as energy, history, life, and memory.

The gate or portal is a marker that invites the viewer to enter into a different physical or psychological dimension outside/inside, or public/private...But it has a dual purpose in that it is also a place in itself, often as distinct as those spaces it is designed to connect.

A Testament to Patience and Vision

Gary Tinterow, the museum's director, reflects on the journey of "Portal" from conception to installation, highlighting the piece's deep resonance and the museum's commitment to finding its rightful place within the Sarofim Campus. This artwork not only celebrates the opening of the Arts of Korea gallery but also embodies the museum's vision of connecting historical art forms with the contemporary moment.

Bridging Cultures and Time

"Portal" emerges from Do Ho Suh's contemplation of home, displacement, and transitional spaces, themes recurrent throughout his career. Drawing from his family's legacy and Korea's historical backdrop, Suh crafts a gateway that transcends physical and psychological dimensions, inviting viewers into a space of reflection and transition.

About Do Ho Suh

Do Ho Suh, a renowned artist known for his intricate fabric sculptures and profound exploration of home and memory, brings his unique perspective to "Portal". Born in Seoul, Korea, and currently residing in London, Suh's work has captivated audiences worldwide, making visible the psychological energies that dwell within our spaces.

The MFAH: A Cultural Beacon

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, continues to be a pivotal force in the art world, with the Sarofim Campus serving as a hub for artistic innovation and cultural dialogue. The installation of "Portal" further solidifies MFAH's role in fostering an environment where historical and contemporary art converge, offering visitors a transformative experience.

"Portal" by Do Ho Suh is a journey through time, culture, and the depths of human emotion, now permanently etched into the fabric of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. This piece invites all to explore the boundaries of art and the uncharted territories of the human experience.