• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2605

    Asian Contemporary Art (Day Sale)

    25 May 2008, Hong Kong

  • Lot 458


    Price Realised  


    (Born in 1969)
    Masturbating Grace
    digital print, aluminum
    110 x 220 cm. (43 1/4 x 86 1/2 in.)
    edition 3/7
    Executed in 2007

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    Themes of irony and paradox are commonly explored theme in the oeuvres of Debbie Han. As a semi-outsider to the Korean culture, Han is able to constructively build an acute observation of the homogeneity of Korean Culture and the commercialized standard beauty portrayed and fantasized through the mass media. Han's shrewd selection of a Venus metaphor succeeds as a diverse hybrid in criticizing issues of the cultural and societal conundrum of today.

    The three graces links arms in close relation together in a habitual posture of female friendship, body shape humanized to affable pragmatism of a typical Asian woman, overall grounding the Goddesses into closer reality with humdrum familiarity in both Walking Three Graces(Lot 459) and Talking Three Graces(Lot 460). Their facial expressions remain unchanged, however, Han's powerful manipulation with gesture furnishes a sense of warmth to these otherwise seemingly cold and lifeless statuesque. The black backdrop in contrary to the pale white skin of the three graces further accentuates the malleable bodyline and their crisp carving of their hair. Alike in facial expression and features, the hairstyle performs as the crucial indication for distinguishable identification among these three graces.

    Inconspicuously exhibiting her dexterity in execution by arranging three different degrees of facial angle, Han eloquently discloses her depth of erudition in Greek mythology by compositing each of the three deities to draw out their finest assets. Paraphrasing in stagnant physical language of 'The Judgement of Paris', a beauty contest between the three deities for the reward of the golden apple, she adeptly unravels the story of the three Goddesses of Olympos, Aphrodite, Hera and Athena in her unique exploration of the power of gesture. Vastly apparent inMasturbating Grace(Lot 458), Han knowingly positions the body in taboo composition, evoking a gentle shock as the Venus has been reconfigured into a literal direction of Goddess of love, lust and beauty, and furthermore as the winner of the Apple of Discard; in which she has won with her seductive offer with the exposure of her body. Like so, Han creates a new urban mythology by poignantly bringing the hidden mythology within the reality into light, reiterating today's politically wrong social hierarchy based on beauty and lust. The legend of Paris's desire for Aphrodite's lust and beauty over glory, wisdom, wealth and power of Athene and Hera, Han inaudibly criticizes and draws correlations to the contemporary human tendencies, in which in ominous de ja vu may cause an end result of death and destruction, akin to the war between the Trojans and the Greeks that have lost many lives, including Paris himself.