Press / ArtScene
January 8 - February 19, 2005 at Koplin Del Rio Gallery, West Hollywood
by Andy Brumer
Moira Hahn’s exhibition, “Twilight Chorus,” and Wes Christensen’s “American Shots” are both examples of polished and thought provoking representational art. While Hahn’s small watercolor paintings on paper and Christensen’s even more diminutive watercolor, gauche and colored pencil works couldn’t diverge more radically in terms of imagery and spatial dynamics, a brooding and foreboding emotional intensity unites them. Both artists employ a narrative surface to convey their works’ essentially lyrical notes and poetic depths.
Indeed, a wildly transgressive, Zen-like menagerie of Japanese deities, demons and anime characters populates and plays in Hahn’s work. In a printed statement, the artist says that ideas for some of her pieces also come from observations of the natural world, particularly the habits of the wild birds and feral cats that lurk in her backyard. In “The Revenge of the Tori,” a studio full of lasciviously-beaked birds (elegantly attired in classical 19th century robes) paint “wanted posters” of their own neighborhood cat, who watches stage right while exhaling gleeful fire from his grinning mouth. Surely you’ve see some of these creatures in your own neighborhood.
In “At the Ball,” fierce tigers stare antagonistically toward the viewer, while pairs of rabbits, turtles and kangaroos dance inside of randomly floating, sky-blue spheres (the pun of dancing at a ball happening inside of balls seems intended). An angelic monkey drives the narrative by serenading the affair from an omniscient perch in the upper right hand corner of the piece. Another, gentler painting fashions a flock of “Ravens” and their shadows flying into an interlocking graphic pattern presented with dispassionate and meditative ease.
The “Heaven and Hell” series brilliantly weds Buddhist and Christian concepts of the afterlife in paintings that swirl with both technical control and iconoclastic abandon. One can’t help but think of Peter Paul Reubens' classic Baroque torque, the raucous personages of Thomas Hart Benton, and the Pop/Ukiyo-e fusions of formerly L.A.-based Masami Teraoka.