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Zak Ové: Autonomous Morris
Zak Ové: Autonomous Morris

International real estate developer, Tishman Speyer, in collaboration with Vigo Gallery and Encounter Contemporary announces the debut exhibition of ‘Autonomous Morris’ by British-Trinidadian artist Zak Ové at the newly re-opened Smithson Plaza (originally designed by Alison and Peter Smithson). The sculpture is the largest mask the artist has completed to date and is set to be unveiled to the public on Friday 5th October, during Frieze week, remaining on show in the plaza until early 2019.

Standing at approximately 10 feet high ‘Autonomous Morris’ is made from deconstructed and collaged vintage car parts welded to produce a futuristic yet retro, cross cultural totemic Mask.

‘Autonomous Morris’ according to Ové is a motorised ‘Macco’ – a person who minds other people’s business for the purpose of gossip and posterity. Morris soaks up contemporary oral history and information, recording and storing as a ‘never forgetterer’. He listens to your aspirations, your pride, joy and anguish, acting as a receiver and archiver of memory.

Ové has found he has a particular interest in the sculptural aspects of cars, using them to represent geographical movement, historical documentation, protection and nostalgia. The sculpture is entirely made from discarded car parts including several vintage Morris Minor bonnets, referencing the assumed British tradition of Morris Dancing which in reality came to us courtesy of the Moors. As an unwitting monument to the last beetle to roll off the production line this week, its organic lines and animated filmic representations add to the cultural potency of the material.

Ove is fascinated by time travel, the spread of the diaspora and the positive effects of colliding culture. Especially relevant is his belief in the power or play embodied in masquerade to liberate a sense of self and provide an alternate or evolving creative space both personal and communal.

The Smithson Plaza has a long history of showcasing public artworks of leading established and emerging artists including Sir Eduardo Paolozzi. The dynamic contemporary arts programme was originally established in 1964 and was re-introduced upon its re-opening in June this year.

Dan Nicholson, Managing Director of Tishman Speyer UK, said: “The re-activation of the plaza was an integral part of our strategy to reposition Smithson Plaza as a best-in-class West End office destination. We’re very pleased to welcome Zak Ove, his cultural learnings and bespoke sculpture as part of the wider arts programme which has been a great success to date.”

Ové’s work is internationally acclaimed for breaking boundaries between class, race and religion, exploring themes of lost culture and African identity within the context of his cross pollinated Trinidadian British cultural background. Working with sculpture, film and photography, he uses new-world materials to pay tribute to both spiritual and artistic African identity.

In 2015 Ové was the first Caribbean artist to enter the British Museum’s permanent collection with his Moko Jumbie sculptures, currently on display in the Africa Galleries following their exhibition in the Grand Court. The Invisible Man and the Masque of Blackness, a powerful, group of forty identical sculptures was first shown at Somerset House for the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair in 2016, and is currently installed outside City Hall on San Francisco’s Civic Plaza from where it is anticipated to travel to other institutions. The installation has also been exhibited at Yorkshire Sculpture Park and has recently opened at Roche Court Sculpture Park.

In summer 2019, Ové will be curating an exhibition, called ‘Dreaming the Diaspora”, at Somerset House showcasing a collection of works by artists from a multicultural, multi-ethnic background. The exhibition will be intertwined with Ové’s own experiences and the history of those who grew up in his father’s pioneering Windrush generation.

Please join us at the opening of Autonomous Morris at our press breakfast, on Friday the 5th of October 2018 8.30-10am. RSVP

To find out more information about The Smithson Plaza, please visit and for more information about Tishman Speyer, please visit

For more information on Vigo Gallery, please visit or search #vigogallery

About The Smithson Plaza

Under Tishman Speyer’s stewardship, the estate is undergoing a substantial refurbishment by London-based architects DSDHA. The first phase renovation works consists of upgrading the buildings and the plaza to deliver a renewed destination and prime office space for St James’s while reconnecting with the Smithsons’ original design.

The former Economist Plaza, the last remaining building in London by iconic architects Alison and Peter Smithson, was originally home to The Economist Magazine which commissioned and occupied it for more than half a century. Completed in 1964, the Grade II*-listed Brutalist complex will be renamed ‘The Smithson Plaza’ on 7 June in honour of the original architects.

A new lobby and a 1,500 sq ft café will welcome occupiers and visitors to the Smithson Tower at plaza level. Six newly renovated upper floors, totalling approximately 22,000 sq. ft will be delivered as part of the first phase. At street level, the scheme will create a new 4,600 sq ft retail space with access to Bury Street and Ryder Street.

Tishman Speyer

Tishman Speyer is one of the leading owners, developers, operators and fund managers of first-class real estate in the world. Since 1978, Tishman Speyer has acquired, developed and operated 403 assets with approximately 166 million square feet of commercial and residential space. The total value of Tishman Speyer’s current unrealized portfolio plus total sales volume on realized investments since inception is approximately US$87 billion in total value across the United States, Europe, Latin America and Asia. Signature assets include New York’s Rockefeller Center and Chrysler Center, São Paulo’s Torre Norte, Ventura Corporate Towers in Rio de Janeiro, and OpernTurm in Frankfurt. Tishman Speyer currently has projects in different stages of development in Brasilia, Boston, Chengdu, Frankfurt, Gurgaon, Hyderabad, Los Angeles, New York City, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco, São Paulo, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Washington, DC.

Zak Ové

Zak Ové is a London based multi-disciplinary artist working in film, sculpture and photography to reclaim old world mythologies in new world source materials and technologies. His fascination with the interplay between antiquity and the future is inspired by masking rituals and traditions of Trinidadian carnival that is itself rooted in a struggle for emancipation. Ové’s work is in celebration of the power of play, the juxtaposition of parody and sacred ritual and the blurring of edges between reality and fantasy, flesh and spirit. His use of non-traditional materials: copper, wood, Victoriana and other found materials, situates the work in the metropoles of Europe and the Americas where they merge and mutate into endless possibilities and unexpected identities.

Encounter Contemporary

Encounter Contemporary has been appointed by Tishman Speyer to curate and manage The Smithson Plaza’s art program.

Founded in 2013 by Alexander Caspari and Jordan Harris, Encounter Contemporary is a curatorial platform, dealership and contemporary art consultancy. The company focuses on promoting a diverse and innovative group of established and emerging contemporary artists who are transforming the way art is made and presented. We run an international ‘moving’ exhibition program curating academically rigorous, ambitious and immersive shows. Working closely with both long standing and new clients on an ongoing basis we confidently source only the best artworks from our trusted international network of artists, art professionals and private collections.

Vigo Gallery

Vigo represents emerging and established international artists, curating shows in both the public and private arenas.  We advise several residencies and enjoy good relations with many Museums and Foundations from the TATE to the British Museum, MOMA, The Sharjah Art Foundation, The Metropolitan Museum and the Saatchi Gallery, and have placed more than twenty historic and contemporary works into the collections of prominent museums over the past three years.

Vigo has a particular interest in the African diaspora (Ibrahim El Salahi and Zak Ové) and African American artists (Derrick Adams, Leonardo Drew) although the program is truly international working with artists and estates from Belgium, Russia, America and Japan alongside our British contingent.

In addition to our contemporary focus and primary program, the gallery also shines light on historically significant yet often undervalued artists with strong museum and curatorial followings.

Notable exhibitions are listed on our website and include: Bram Bogart, Derrick Adams, Leonardo Drew, Ibrahim El Salahi, Boyle Family, Marcus Harvey, Gavin Turk, Masaaki Yamada, Kadar Brock, Nika Neelova and Daniel Crews-Chubb.

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