The classic board game “Monopoly” may be a childhood favorite for many people, but have you ever noticed its hidden sarcastic criticism against capitalism? The game was designed to highlight problems of income inequality and hegemony of monopolists. One must chase after money and think of ways to vanquish rivals, an apt metaphor for today’s capitalist societies. To explore society’s obsession with wealth, New York-based conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas presents serial imagery of international currencies in bold monochromes along with elements derived from “Monopoly” in his latest exhibition “Don’t Let Money Change You”.

展覽於2020年9月21日至10月31日在布朗畫廊香港空間舉行。是次展覽是托馬斯在畫廊的第三次個展,此前於倫敦空間舉辦的「The Beautiful Game」(2017 年)及於香港空間舉辦的「My Life is Ours」(2018 年)均備受讚譽,「勿為五斗米折腰」則帶來藝術家另開生面的「retroreflective」系列新作。

The exhibition runs from 21 September to 31 October 2020 at the Hong Kong gallery of Ben Brown Fine Arts. This is the artist’s third solo exhibition with the gallery, following his highly acclaimed shows, “The Beautiful Game” (2017) in London, and “My Life is Ours” (2018) in Hong Kong. “Don’t Let Money Change You “brings together a new body of work from Thomas’s innovative retroreflective series.


This radically inventive body of work is achieved by hand-screen printing images, in this case striking grids of currencies, onto retroreflective vinyl sheeting, the industrial material used to make road signs visible in the dark. While traces of patterning are perceptible upon first inspection of these intriguing monochromes, it is only when the works are illuminated by a beam of light that the intricate details of the iconic imagery are fully revealed. The works must be ‘activated’ by the viewer, whether using the light on an iPhone or taking a photograph with a flash, encouraging an engagement and personalized experience with each work of art.

FIVE HUNDRED EURO BILLS (BLACK), 2019, Screenprint on retroreflective vinyl, mounted on Dibond, 213.4 x 121.9 cm; (84 x 48 in.)


By combining the retroreflective material with the recognizable Warholian grid of currency notes, Thomas invites the viewer to step into the role of image maker and reflect on notions of fine art, commerce, branding, identity and value. As these familiar faces of currency (Chinese Yuan Renminbi, Euro, South African Rand, UK Pound Sterling, and US Dollar) become activated and revealed as the latent images, viewers are reminded of these ubiquitous fictional symbols which affect larger systems of power, economics and society. An important tenet of Thomas’s artistic practice is to instigate pause, participation and reflection in his audience, which is successfully achieved through this engaging body of work.


Furthering Thomas’s exploration of popular culture and color theory, the works in the exhibition are contextualized against walls of the new gallery space covered by magnified imagery from “Monopoly”. The juxtaposition of these universal symbols of wealth and power, one set derived from a family board game and the other from international governments’ currency systems, highlights the value placed on symbols in culture and the fragility of such systems. The ‘fake’ money awarded in a Monopoly game is intended to evoke the same feelings of desire as real money. In referencing this game of fantasy, alongside reproductions of actual currencies, depicted in varying colors, sizes and textures, the installation examines our reliance upon symbolism as identity.

托馬斯借作品探討了他對重複和大量生產的圖像,及其與藝術家雙手之結合能力的深厚興趣,正如二十世紀的藝術大師安迪∙沃霍爾(Andy Warhol ) 和羅伯特∙勞森伯格(Robert Rauschenberg)的創作那樣。在指涉波普藝術和抽象表現主義的同時,作品最終也讓托馬斯回歸自己作為受過傳統培訓的攝影師的根源。製作反光作品的繁複過程再次喚起暗室後的實驗和啓示性體驗所帶來的奇蹟之感,而這些正是他開始攝影的緣由。

In this series Thomas explores his fascination with repetition and mass-produced imagery, and ways that it can coalesce with the hand of the artist, similar to the investigations of 20th century masters Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg. While referencing both Pop    Art and Abstract Expressionism, these works ultimately bring Thomas back to his roots as a traditionally trained photographer. The elaborate processes involved in creating the   retroreflective works allows Thomas to evoke the wonder of experimentation and revelatory experiences found in the darkroom that originally drew him to photography.

托馬斯生於1976 年,於紐約大學獲得攝影與非洲文學學士學位,並於舊金山加利福尼亞藝術學院獲得攝影與視覺批評文學碩士學位,目前於紐約市生活和工作。他的作品於美國和國際藝術機構廣泛展出,包括紐約國際攝影中心、紐約哈林工作室博物館、俄亥俄州克利夫蘭藝術博物館、佐治亞州薩凡納藝術博物館、華盛頓科科倫藝術館、加拿大安大略美術館、巴黎布朗利碼頭博物館、香港藝術中心、荷蘭魏特德維茨當代藝術中心、畢爾巴鄂古根漢美術館和開普敦蔡茨非洲當代藝術博物館等。托馬斯的作品被收藏於眾多公共和私人收藏中,包括紐約現代藝術博物館、紐約所羅門·∙R·∙古根漢美術館、紐約惠特尼美術館、紐約布魯克林博物館、喬治亞州亞特蘭大市高等藝術博物館,以及華盛頓國家美術館等。托馬斯的個展「All Things Being Equal…」日前已在俄勒岡州的波特蘭藝術博物館和阿肯色州本頓維爾的水晶橋美國藝術博物館巡展完,並將繼續於俄亥俄州的辛辛那提藝術博物館展出。

Hank Willis Thomas (b. 1976) received a BFA in Photography and Africana Studies from New York University and an MFA and MA in Photography and Visual Criticism from the California College of Arts, San Francisco. He currently lives and works in New York City. Thomas’s work has been exhibited extensively throughout the United  States and abroad, at institutions including the International Center of  Photography, New  York; Studio Museum, Harlem, New York; Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio; SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, Georgia; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada; Musée du quai Branly, Paris; Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong; Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Netherlands; Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao; and Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Cape Town. His work is in numerous public and private collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Brooklyn Museum, New York; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia; and the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, among others. Thomas’s solo exhibition “All Things Being Equal…”, has travelled to the Portland Museum of Art, OR, and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AK, and will continue to the Cincinnati Museum of Art, OH.

Hank Willis Thomas’s Don’t Let Money Change You​
Date: 2020.9.21 – 10.31​
Time: Tuesday – Saturday, 11:00 – 19:00​
Ben Brown Fine Arts Hong Kong ​
香港黃竹坑業發街1 號The Factory 202 室​
Unit 202, The Factory, 1 Yip Fat Street Wong Chuk Hang, Hong Kong​

圖片由藝術家和Ben Brown Fine Arts 提供​
Courtesy of the Artist and Ben Brown Fine Arts​

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