Gina Han, "Blue Pond"
June 2 - July 14, 2012 at Ruth Bachofner Gallery, Santa Monica
by Suvan Geer
Motion will probably not be the first thing you think of when you look at Gina Han’s newest acrylic paintings because, like all her works to date, these exude a well ordered quietude or stillness. The artist uses her repertory of cheery color and organic pours of bas relief acrylic paint to span geometrically fragmented grounds of carefully orchestrated negative space. An upshot it to imbue her brand of pop influenced, hard edge abstraction with delicate movement.
Gina Han, "Blue Pond," 2012, acrylic on wood panel, 52 x 52".
As in previous exhibits, each of her paintings presents a gridded composition comprised of square and rectangular panels created one at a time. Fitted together they form a single larger square. It is their thin coats of poured liquid acrylic paint, arranged into geometric patterns from bright to dark, earthy to clearly plastic that make the compositions dance. Han coats each of the small individual panels with veils of sheer transparent color or more opaque creams of acrylic paint. Her signature pillowy bean forms, made of slow, carefully controlled acrylic pours, float placidly atop their grounds like low clinging bubbles or plump, soaking seeds. Often her colors will thin out along the edges of the small panels. That modulation and the way the panel’s edges don’t quite mesh serves to soften the works' overall geometry and gives her arrangements a pleasing looseness. It’s as if their present alignment is fluid, both spontaneously achieved and temporary.
The spots of bright color and simple, repetitive shapes draw the eye playfully across each painting’s broad span and very liquid negative space. She orchestrates that movement with a visual rhythm of square patches or horizontal bars of pure, clear colors that, for all their eye-candy sweetness, also manage to evoke memories of tropical seas, standing water, hot pavement or sun drenched pools.
In “Blue Pond” we skitter across the almost glowing lightness of the painting’s small squares to sink luxuriously into a few cool blue horizontal bars. In those shallow fields of refreshing transparent color the grain in the wood panel underneath often seems to ripple like a current. The rest of the painting’s divided panels are light whites and tans. A few are dotted with the small, slightly puffy, kidney-shaped islands tinted various shades of blue, from pale to very dark. The eye darts around the patchwork ground, following the repeated pool shapes and watery horizontal bars like a wet passageway made from drips left on drying pavement. It’s as playful a journey as it is contained.
Contained play could be the watchword of Han’s installations too. She typically adheres an assortment of large, bright and dark colored puddles made from shiny liquefied acrylic paint directly to the room’s floor. Smaller pools of the same colors echo the floor shapes and climb high on the walls to push against the room’s containing dimensions. Like colorful spatter left from an invigorating but messy party the graduating sizes of the amassing shapes can make the forms appear to be slowly migrating.
Walking among Han’s colorful installations one can’t help but think of Japanese pop artist Yayoi Kusama’s exuberant polka dot installations that cover everything from walls and floors, to trees, clothes and bodies. Kusama saw her repetitive patterns as stimulating a sense of a metaphysical movement that stretches out to infinity. Han’s liquid acrylic shapes on wall and floor lead us to think of other kinds of hidden motion. Things we often only notice through their vivacious results.
In "Green Pond V" the suggestion of hidden motion is akin to sprouting, cellular division and reproductive budding. It’s a lovely insinuation of invisible natural forces that we pick up from the patches of clear, lively greens, creamy neutrals and rich brown grounds judiciously dotted with a host of similarly colored forms. Where four partial pod shapes get spliced together in co-joined panels the resulting union suggests a kind of morphing bloom - part mature flower, part still evolving fetus.
Elegant but lighthearted, there is a welcome depth in Han’s use of refined form, bright color and carefully parsed negative space. Hers is a soft, and sometimes giggling, language of refinement and bubbling color impressions in which we happily find the ongoing motion of the visually and vitally animated world we inhabit.