Florentijn Hoffman returns to Taiwan with new exhibition

The Dutch artist's Play Around the World exhibition now open at Taipei's Whitestone Gallery

Hofman's Rubber Duck in Hong Kong (Image by Wikipedia Commons)

Hofman's Rubber Duck in Hong Kong (Image by Wikipedia Commons)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, creator of the Rubber Duck seen around Taiwan back in 2013 and the Moon rabbit, which succumbed to a fire disaster in 2014, returned to Taiwan this month to open an exhibition of rescaled versions of his playful urban installations.

Hoffman is well-known for his creative installments that impose a sense of youthful naivety upon modern, urban landscapes, bringing a sense of “play” back to environments engulfed by the mundanity of modern-day life.

In an interview with Apple Daily, the artist admitted the original model of his Moon Rabbit was to be flown to Taiwan on the Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 (MH17), which was tragically shot down above Ukraine in 2014. The rabbit, therefore, never made it to Taiwan.

Hoffman said the concept behind Moon Rabbit was suited to Mid-Autumn Festival; a huge rabbit lying atop a Taoyuan naval bunker symbolizing a peaceful protest against war. He never imagined it would become involved in an actual war.

The design plans and base structure were sent to Taiwan aboard MH17 but the plane was shot down on July 17, 2014 from the airspace above Russia and Ukraine amid conflict between the two countries. The second version erected in Taoyuan was, therefore, a tribute to the victims of the incident, Hoffman explained.

The artist’s solo exhibition, Play Around the World, is now open to visitors at Taipei’s Whitestone Gallery until Nov. 11. As well as rescales of his urban installations, the exhibition features Hoffman’s “Line” series, which debuted in Hong Kong, and his newest “Glass Eyes” series debuting in Taipei.

The Line series displays only the etched outlines of animals, allowing viewers to imagine them in their most pure and child-like form. Glass Eyes takes inspiration from children’s cuddly toys, using glass to highlight the notion of “watching.” Viewers are invited to look into the eyes of the sculptures and see themselves while experiencing the feeling of being watched by the inanimate objects.

Though having raised three cats and a dog himself, Hoffman admitted in an interview that he was not super passionate about animals, but that his love was for animal toys. He was fascinated by the animal figures his grandmother used to display on her windowsill, made from rubber, ceramics and plastic. His work is more about the not-100%-real aesthetic, he explained.

Hoffman’s sculptures have always been of oversized animals, using both abstract images and children’s toys as inspiration. In Nijmegen, Netherlands, he erected a giant rabbit sculpture within which people climb up and look off into the distance. He also designed a giant bear holding a pillow for Amsterdam, which he says is intended to protect the community.

"Uitkijkkonijn" in Nijmgen, Netherlands (Image from Flickr)

Play Around the World marks the first instance where Hoffman has moved his work to indoor spaces. Despite the change in setting, he adds that as long as the galleries are open to the public, everyone is invited in to play around the world.