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Dabin Ahn

JUNE 18 - JULY 16, 2022

Opening Reception | June 18, 2022, 4-7 PM

Shatto Gallery is pleased to present ONE-OFF, a solo exhibition of paintings and sculptural works by the Chicago based artist Dabin Ahn. This show marks Ahn’s first exhibition with the gallery. The show will be on view from June 18th through July 16, 2022. 


This exhibition highlights Dabin Ahn’s most recent body of paintings and large-scale sculptures bringing together a focus on the Royal Copenhagen figurines: a personal archive the artist has dwelled on as a subject of address. This recent suite of works marks a pivotal bend in Ahn’s practice asserting his fascination in recontextualizing these particular objects. 


Ahn examines his inevitable inclination towards the production history of the Royal Copenhagen figurines and inquires into the meaning and authenticity that arise from the figurines’ manufacturing conventions. This line of inquiry led Ahn to identify the individualized hallmarks by means of varying painters; albeit the figurines are traditionally replicated from identical prototypes into multiples. Hence Ahn devotes himself to close observation of these objects, translating this idiosyncrasy into paintings. Each painting is reduced in composition and magnified on isolated angles of the figurines, drawing attention to the illusionistic language of painting. In Prometheus Kissing a Nymph, he astutely paints a close up of the two characters kissing, evoking  the effect of luster and invites the viewer to wander into the untraceable paint manipulation. The angle he selects to represent heralds quasi-sentient beings, ensuing a spectacle in which the subject embodies. 


The artist’s meticulous attention to the characterizing texture of paint transpires in abandoning the vestiges of brush strokes echoing the underglaze techniques that accentuate the shapes of the figurines. This series of work chronicles the archive of these inanimate objects and offers foresight to the power of seriality and the parameters of individuality. Ahn underscores this distinction by presenting doubles of the same subject. Half-smile marks the first impression the artist had when he came upon this figurine, Girl with a Goose thus contextualizing the figurine with a sense of place and narrative defined within this composition. Parallel to the figurine, a vocabulary of architecture and optical illusion emerges. Ahn’s painterly craft encapsulates a subtle range of paint applications, rendering every element from the figurine, the butterfly sticker, and the window sill with distinctive finish. A few selected paintings are framed with lumber found in hardware stores, creating a material contrast between the high gloss painted surface and commercialized lumber. Ironically the two materials share a parallel in the way they were produced, granted the porcelain miniatures hold a higher value despite their lack of functionality. 


In addition to the paintings, the large-scale sculptures are critical to the proposition he makes to reassess the value of the object by degrading the material from porcelain to styrofoam. The sculptures are enlarged 10 - 15 times its original size and amplifies the object not only in scale but intensifies the magnitude in which this object summons the viewers to behold. What is normally handheld is exaggerated in scale, shifting the perception in which the object bears. 


Dabin Ahn masterfully deliberates this show, exploring the fluidity between realism and trompe l’oeil presenting a multitude of dimensions found within this subject. The dichotomies Ahn proposes oscillates the object’s perception and brings the opportunity to discern the one of a kind carried out by various hands of the porcelain figurine painters. The artist also instills an element of the uncanny; the enchanting features of the figurines peer out of the canvases, captivating the viewer directly. Ahn showcases his high level of painterly skills merging realist observations with a pervading sense of narrative. Each work is imbued with sophisticated decisions and rigorous self-discipline, revealing Ahn’s possession of artistic agency to elicit unequaled observations.


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