Jason McCoy Gallery is pleased to present White Light, an Online Exclusive Exhibition, featuring twenty-five paintings and a rare work on paper by Raymond Han (1931-2017). Reaching back into Han’s catalogue of the past two decades, this selection focuses on the artist’s employment of white as a means to either establish an atmosphere of serenity or assure dramatic impact. The former applies primarily to many of Han’s signature still lifes, which can feature any combination of fine ceramics, classical marble sculptures, lush bouquets of flowers, sea shells or everyday objects, such as paper rolls, wooden crates, and chairs. Many of these predominantly mid-size compositions are rendered as if seen in an even white light, one that is perhaps most evocative of an early bright morning. The result is a de-saturated palette that aids in unifying the eclectic and yet carefully arranged objects that inhabit Han’s paintings in both sparse or elaborate groupings. Rendered meticulously and remaining independent from any association of a particular time or space, each of these compositions reveals an aesthetic kinship to such classical references as Renaissance frescoes, the paintings by Nicolas Poussin, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, and the works of Giorgio Morandi, among others.
The same aesthetics apply to Han’s figurative compositions, although these can embrace a dramatic quality that is rarely encountered in the still lifes. Paintings, such as Platonic Discourse, which depicts a couple divided both by a classical bust on a table and a minimal, geometric painting on the wall, or Untitled (The Magician), showing a reclining female nude in mid-air as a magician is about to prove her suspension with the help of a ring, add a sense of theatrical narrative. In fact, Han preferred showing his figures in a flattened space as if seen on a stage, exposed to close observation. Furthermore, the white light is used quite differently here. Instead of unifying the composition in temperate tones, it is occasionally employed as a means to establish the Chiaroscuro effect of contrasting light and shadow. In these psychological portraits of the human condition rather than of anonymous sitters, light is falling unevenly into the space, drawing the viewer’s attention to the folds of the classical garments that thinly veil their bodies. Overall, it was Han’s ability to nuance his subjects both formally and in palette while committing to crisply delineating them that succeeded in establishing a mood both unique and recognizable: calm, transcending, and as a result timeless.
Of Korean descent, Raymond Han was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1931 and was based in New York City and upstate New York for most of his life. After study with Willson Young Stamper (1912–1988) at the Honolulu Museum of Art, Han moved to New York City and studied at the Art Students League of New York with Frank Mason (born 1921) and Robert Beverly Hale (1901–1985). His work is in the permanent collections of The Honolulu Museum of Art, the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, Yale University, Goldman Sachs and Company, and the Picker Art Gallery, Colgate College, among many others. Notable solo museum exhibitions include the Fenimore Art Museum, New York (2015); the Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York (1997); the Academy of Arts, Hawaii (1995), and the Munson Williams Proctor Institute, Utica, New York (1982). Han passed away in Cooperstown, New York, in 2017. His Estate is represented by Jason McCoy Gallery, New York.