Ahn Hyong Nam: Automatic Nature

929 Cole Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038
Jun 04, 5 PM - 7 PM — ends Jul 16, 2022
Ahn Hyong Nam’s decades-long practice merges disparate materials and genres into sprawling, neon-lit paintings and assemblages animated as if of their own volition. Catalyzed by our unruly environment, Ahn collects Abrahamic parables, avian migration patterns, everyday idioms, and orchestral compositions, which he then molds into corporeal, kinetic forms. Metal scraps, polished sheets of aluminum, pebbles, lights, sounds, and sensations are resources for Ahn, whose omnivorous approach feeds his works’ autonomy as much as his own.

Ahn’s work “comes out automatically” as he sifts through his sketches for nebulous forms and metaphors. While the processes that govern our household appliances, algorithms, and psyches may also be ‘automatic,’ Ahn sidesteps the term’s rotely mechanical or psychoanalytic associations. Instead, his approach echoes an ancient iteration of the word, the Greek automatos, wherein a form can “act of itself” or “of one’s own will.” This dynamism, or even animism, transfers a yearning for selfhood into the already glowing, moving works.

While the exhibition exudes the industrial immediacy of American and Korean cities where Ahn has lived and worked, hints of natural phenomena such as vine-like armatures or stacks of river rocks reflect not just a system but an ecosystem. Ahn’s ideographical hearts, sprawling figures, and visceral collages present an inward counterbalance to his exterior reactions, rather than diametrically opposed conditions. Ahn lightheartedly describes himself as being halfway to a monk while ruminating about the overwhelming intensity of our habitats, human-made or otherwise. By embracing the most spontaneous and automatic force of all, nature itself, Ahn incites his works to germinate, toil, and coalesce, as if of their own will.