Review: Daunting power of the hand, mind and machine by Matt Hope at Ace Gallery


Matt Hope packs his extensive, daunting show at Ace Beverly Hills with all sorts of power -- of the hand, mind and machine. Some of it seduces with the allure of exquisite craft. Some of it unnerves by seeming not quite safely harnessed.

Born in London and living in Beijing, Hope is a resourceful, skilled maker in multiple media. He draws large, intricate scenes of industrial buildings in ruin and flame, as if factories in the business of producing collapse. He sculpts sleek tools out of solid stainless steel: hammer, knife, nail, wrench. Enshrined in clear, vault-like vitrines, they read as relics, homages to manual facility rendered untouchable and unusable.

Inventing form to match function (itself also invented) and flirting with their misalignment is where Hope’s ingenuity and dark, dry humor find their truest home.


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A wall full of sketched prospects, such as the “Noiserator,” a device that creates electricity out of background noise, serves as prelude to the show’s main event, a group of 10 “Towers” built from standard hardware-store inventory, Hope’s DIY response to the chaos and cacophony of China’s construction boom.

Each is a sturdy jumble of rods and plates, plastic zip-ties, solar panels, battery packs, timers, audio and electrical components, standing human-height and higher. Most rotate, buzz, pop or make a frightful clatter as they do their ostensible jobs: converting light, heat, sound or one form of power into another.

Retro-futuristic, erector-set contraptions, Hope’s towers are specific and physically insistent in their solutions, however vast or absurd the problems they address.

Ace Gallery Beverly Hills, 9430 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, (310) 858-9090, through Oct. 31. Closed Sundays and Mondays.



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