YoAhn Han 2024

February 29 - April 13, 2024

20 rue des Coutures Saint Gervais 75003 Paris

Yo Ahn Han is haunted by deathlike seizures. His body may convulse involuntarily, shaking him into a state of paralysis where the mind is unengaged, and the body violently writhing. Han explores this uncanny state in his latest body of work. In the collaged works depicting human bodies and floral motifs, he explores the paradoxical union of life and death. The case in point is the use of chrysanthemum: whereas this flower represents the promise of life when it blooms, it is also used at funeral in Korea and therefore is associated with the sorrow of everlasting sleep. Similarly, titan arum, the largest flower species on earth indigenous to Sumatra (Indonesia) has idiosyncratic signs. It appears to have sexual (phallic) form but it also smells cadaver. Special anecdote of Han’s childhood discovery adds the curiosity of that flower. In “Plants and Flowers”, color encyclopedia, 1988, Korea Time Life, its translated Korean name was written in this way: “Sumatra Cheon-nam-sung”. It sounds as if first male in Korean, although it means botanical family of “Araceae” such as snake lily. Cut images of chrysanthemums, titan arums, and other objects with multiple meanings are hidden in the process of Han’s work. Those reconfigured bodies made out of floral shapes, tranquilly reflect pain and pleasure that Han’s own body does in his living condition.

Yo Ahn Han is haunted by deathlike seizures. His body may convulse involuntarily, shaking him into a state of paralysis where the mind is unengaged, and the body violently writhing. Han explores this uncanny state in his latest body of work. In the collaged works depicting human bodies and floral motifs, he explores the paradoxical union of life and death. The case in point is the use of chrysanthemum: whereas this flower represents the promise of life when it blooms, it is also used at funeral in Korea and therefore is associated with the sorrow of everlasting sleep. Similarly, titan arum, the largest flower species on earth indigenous to Sumatra (Indonesia) has idiosyncratic signs. It appears to have sexual (phallic) form but it also smells cadaver. Special anecdote of Han’s childhood discovery adds the curiosity of that flower. In “Plants and Flowers”, color encyclopedia, 1988, Korea Time Life, its translated Korean name was written in this way: “Sumatra Cheon-nam-sung”. It sounds as if first male in Korean, although it means botanical family of “Araceae” such as snake lily. Cut images of chrysanthemums, titan arums, and other objects with multiple meanings are hidden in the process of Han’s work. Those reconfigured bodies made out of floral shapes, tranquilly reflect pain and pleasure that Han’s own body does in his living condition.

 

Growing up with a rare body condition, brain vascular malformation and witnessing his partner’s recent hospitalization due to a life-threatening condition (parasitic liver abscess) caused Han to pay attention to the vulnerability of the human condition. By pouring water and allowing it to stain paper and generate form from nature and manual manipulation (cutting out forms from the water-stained materials), Han highlights the attempts to control chaos and the seemingly uncontrollable quality of the body that he lives with, as if enduring an epilepsy. He relates these seemingly different experiences through the visual language of his work, a practice of making a sense of helpless figurative gestures visible.

 

Space in-between (negative space) takes important role in Yo Ahn Han’s plain composition as well. Lee Joon, an assistant director of Leeum Museum of Art, says in his text, Void, Mapping the Invisible in Korean Art (2007), “In East Asian painting, which traditionally placed more emphasis on inherent spirit in objects than representing them, the void was often used to express not only profound spaces of nature, such as clouds, atmosphere and the ocean, but also worlds that are abridged, suggested and invisible.” In many ways, that expression of the invisible is Han’s own yearning to locate himself in the most familiar, personal and painful memory of that body. The results of this practice that leaves negative spaces complete the works that guide you from what you see to what you can see.

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Past Exhibition

YoAhn Han 2024

Rêves rococo

February 29 - April 13, 2024

20 rue des Coutures Saint Gervais 75003 Paris