Zaha Hadid The Peak Project, Hong Kong, China (Exterior perspective) 1991

  • Not on view

This painting depicts Hadid’s winning entry in an architectural competition for a private club in the hills of Kowloon, Hong Kong. Hadid proposed to transform the site by excavating the hills, using the removed rock to build artificial cliffs, or “a man-made geology,” in her words. Into this new topography she planned to interject cantilevered beams, shard-like fragments, and other elements that would seem to splinter the structure into its myriad constituent parts, as if subjecting it to some powerful, destabilizing force. The forms appear to hover and float, defying gravity.

Though never built, The Peak is considered to be Hadid’s breakthrough project and a pivotal moment in her investigation of painting as a design tool. Hadid often referred to the lasting impact that Russian Suprematist painters, and in particular Kazimir Malevich, the founding figure of the movement, had on her work. Pushing the traditional boundaries of architectural representation, Hadid’s early paintings and drawings explore the potential of dynamism and distortion by superimposing sharp planar elements and overlaying multiple perspectives. In this case, the interplay of elementary geometric forms and primary colors is transformed into a vigorous spatial composition. First developed during this period of experimentation in the early 1980s, her ideas about “lightness, floating, and fluidity,” as she described them, were recurring references throughout her prolific career.

Publication excerpt from MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019)
Additional text

Although primarily known as an architect, Hadid pursued painting as a related practice, deploying her ideas for buildings for visionary ends. With this work, Hadid revisited her Peak Project, the winning design—though never realized—for a private health club in the hills of Kowloon, overlooking Hong Kong. Hadid proposed transforming the site by excavating the rocky hills in order to build artificial cliffs. In her painting she reimagines the topography by interjecting cantilevered beams and shard-like fragments that seem to splinter the structure into its myriad parts, as if it had been subjected to some powerful destabilizing force. In dissecting landscape and structure into geometric forms and suggesting multiple viewpoints at once, Hadid reveals her interest in Russian Constructivism and Cubism, while the composition of fractured geometries demonstrates an approach known as "deconstructivist architecture."

Gallery label from 2017.
Synthetic polymer on paper mounted on canvas
51 x 72" (129.5 x 182.9 cm)
David Rockefeller, Jr. Fund
Object number
© 2024 Zaha Hadid
Architecture and Design

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