MFA ’14 Fine Arts 2D
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.