Whitehot Magazine

December 2009, Debbie Han @ 
LA Contemporary

Secretive Three Graces - 5/7, 2008 Lightjet print, acrylic, aluminum, 60 x 67"


Debbie Han: Hybrid Graces

LA Contemporary
2634 South La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90034

September 12 through October 29

Korean-American artist Debbie Han displays her new exhibition at LA Contemporary, and after two nights of openings around Los Angeles, Hybrid Graces proves to be the salvage of gallery kick-off season.

Critics, philosophers, and theoreticians have stated that, during a recession, artists can return to fundamentals: branding, art market booms, and the constant cycle of the same artists being exhibited can finally come to a halt. In the past three years we have seen a return to Pop art, photo realism, and Conceptual art that have proved successful, yet don’t bring anything new to the table ideologically. Debbie Han not only captures the magnificence of Classical aesthetic beauty that the likes of Kant and Hegel would concur upon, but adds a new dimension of contemporary and Post-Modern ideals for the viewer to sink their teeth into.

Han’s images of present-day Asian women’s bodies attached to classical western goddess heads combines the Orient with the Occident and opens a dialogue on Orientalism; Feminism; the Sublime; Beauty; authenticity; propriety; and perception. Each figure, digitally rendered to the perfection of a marble statue appears seamless, virginal, and flawless, and yet the viewer somehow feels as though these women have a secret amongst themselves and each other – laughing at you for not being their ideal of perfection. “Secretive Graces” pictures the busts of three women whispering to each other: “what do you think of these people passing by?” “Look at these gallery-goers who are so consumed with the need for consumption,” “Watch them stare at us in their ignorance of our oppositional gaze,” “The men watch us phallocularly but we have them fooled, don’t we girls?”

The gallery, interiorly dark with spotlights against each mural-sized image presents the optical illusion that each “Grace” is literally standing in the space to be observed like a sculpture, but Han’s use of photographs wedged between suspended plexiglass affixes a contemporary aspect. Hybrid Graces comes highly recommended, and I can truly say that it will be a saving “Grace” to the art world currently. 

Alexx Shaw for WM LA

Alexx Shaw is a freelance writer in LA.

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