Hanna Hur
 lost Thing
 March 8 – April 14, 2024

Contemporary Art Library


lost Thing gnaws at an imperceptibly cracked surface, seeking some unknown. Hanna Hur’s exhibition with Dracula’s Revenge (March 8-April 14) presents seven recent paintings, offered up in pairs, where a charged void between works exists like a buzzy, electric magnetic field. Over the past year, the artist has conceptualized her paintings as doubles. For a recent show at Kristina Kite Gallery in Los Angeles, two large diptychs faced each other, in a sort of quiet architectural confrontation. At Dracula’s Revenge, Hur stacks two of these pairs vertically in the gallery’s long narrow interior, once again using her canvases to order the viewer’s perception within a room.

The exhibition’s title marks an important thematic throughout the show, and takes its name from a phrase coined by philosopher and psychoanalyst Julia Kristeva. In Kristeva’s 1989 book Black Sun, which addresses themes of depression and melancholia, she identifies the root of all sadness as our early experience of separation from the mother. The “lost Thing” is the pre-oedipal memory of oneness with the mother that can never be recovered. We bear this loss throughout our life, seeking to fill a void. Hur’s “lost Thing” is rooted in her experience of being an identical twin. The perhaps even more sublime oneness that twinship provides makes the inevitable separation through individuation ever more acute. The artist’s doubled canvases place us only that much closer to her endless search for an impossible wholeness.

In the elongated red diptych Angel vi, two canvases dare to reach out to one another, but do not touch. The side-by-side paintings are exact mirrors of one another. While separate, they appear almost bifurcated down the same seam. The central section depicts a stacked half-moon pattern. Placed together, this motif might appear full, or more aptly, complete. The artist likens this section to the spine of an angel. Here, Hur’s flat paintings verge on the sculptural, activating the vacant space between works. 

In other new combinations, patterns are plotted in opposition—rigid, measured grids vie against more natural forms. Chaos and serenity duel one another. The new pairings and contrasts make the artist shudder, but there’s something compelling about the disorientation for someone so accustomed to full control. Central focal points dissolve. Raw canvas peeks out. By embracing improvisation, Hur begins to deconstruct her own systems of making.

Hur’s technique has always required careful looking, the kind of work that belies its very detail, where viewers commune with the painted edge up close. After all, the ritualistic has long captured the artist’s attention. Paradoxically, Hur strays from her familiar symmetry here, a seismic deviation for an artist so committed to the meticulous. In Sun vii, Sun viii, Sun ix, and Sun x, flower wheel forms drift over checkered grids, frothy bubbles floating wild and uncontained on a surface. Each piece seems to take on its own individual intensity.

While separate works, the titular lost Thing and lost Thing ii appear to touch. There is friction in this close proximity. They appear to kiss, or embrace, shoulder to shoulder, the shadowy canvases as one singular piece. Related, but separate, counterparts for the duration of the show and no longer. Her brushstroke is loose, both cloudlike and watery. In these doubled picture planes, opaque figures stand alone and in groups. In this symbolic nocturnal space, one wonders which figures are truly alone. Both moons are whole in the sky. Are these figures trapped here, in this endless search for one another? One might walk off the canvas and into the other scene, wafting through Hur’s psychic dimensions.       

—Simone Krug, Aspen Art Museum


Hanna Hur lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. Hur received an MFA from University of California, Los Angeles in 2019. Recent solo exhibitions include Kristina Kite, Los Angeles (2023, 2021); Feuilleton, Los Angeles (2020); and Bel Ami, Los Angeles (2019). Institutional group exhibitions include Shadow Tracer, Aspen Art Museum (2022); Drawing Down the Moon, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2022); and The Inconstant World, Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2021). Hur’s work is held in the permanent collections of The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.