The clear and close observation of cigarettes challenges preconceived notions of smoking as a health hazard in today's society. Viewers may at first be taken back by Ahn Sung-Ha's enlargement and depiction of this taboo object to an almost glorified form. Painted delicately and in astounding detail, the viewer struggles to admire the realism or be repelled by the harsh smell which seemingly fumes from the canvas. While the clear spot light effect on both her works suggests the use of the cigarettes as a model wholesome and worthy of depicting, viewers are subtly reminded of the degrading effect these cigarettes have on the human body.
Caught in atmospheric lighting, the cool boldness of the thick glass bowl is a stark contrast to the dirty, black ashes filtering from the tightly encased pile of cigarette butts (Untitled) (Lot 421). The poetic exquisiteness of the glass bowl's translucent crystalline form and its luminous reflections seem to defuse the striking image of its content, thereby causing the viewer to lose him or herself in the painting's hypnotic visual effect. Conceivably there is only one smoker responsible for these designer cigarette butts, half ashamed of smoking but also inexplicably drawn to them. The tossed half smoked cigarettes seems a waste, an effort by the smoker perhaps to quit. Bent and extinguished, these cigarettes were forcefully crushed thus indicating anxiety and impatience by the smoker. The connotation of anxiety and stress in these paintings starkly contrasts the satirical beauty and tranquil ambiance emanated in Cigarette (Lot 420). Lonesome, this warm and slowly burning tobacco is strangely beautiful as the ashes linger tightly to one another before falling. We as viewers are captivated by the delicate silver band around the filter and the wispy haze despite the cigarette's notoriously addictive characteristic.