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At Chase Young Gallery, an alchemist with paper and paint

YoAhn Han’s "Light of Recovery."
YoAhn Han’s "Light of Recovery."dmitriy gushchin/Courtesy Chase Young Gallery

Radiant tones, swirling motion, and exacting hand-cut paper dance across YoAhn Han’s mixed-media works at Chase Young Gallery. Those are the invitations. The party is in the layering. Han’s pieces hold worlds, of cut paper and paint trapped beneath a floating sheen of epoxy resin.

Han — a Boston artist originally from Korea — uses his color, motion, and technical wizardry to pull us through the layers. There is the world of the surface, and the world beneath; Han plays with the bewitching between.

Floral paper arts are a Korean tradition. This artist blows them up. He cuts images of blossoms such as chrysanthemums and Titan Arum flowers. In “Light of Recovery,” it’s a giant chrysanthemum, with voluptuous petals smudged in yellow fluttering over a speckled, watery blue ground. It looks cosmic, even as some of the flower’s outer edges wilt and char, grayed with ink. Bits of paper pulp fly above the flower as if flung, erupting like crystals from the shiny epoxy surface.

YoAhn Han’s "Globule in Motion."
YoAhn Han’s "Globule in Motion."YoAhn Han/Courtesy Chase Young Gallery

Flowers symbolize the blush of life and the threat of death. Han has a rare condition, brain vascular malformation, which causes seizures. His mind goes blank as his body convulses. Tuned into his own fragility, his art is at once expansive and immediate. The fine, precise, representational cut paper drills down, but the paint explodes. The balance is perfect in “Globule in Motion,” where against a gold ground, paper blossoms support luscious passages of peach and fuchsia.


Lately, Han has been building figures from his paper flora. “In Search of Floral Bodies” sets two reclining figures made of leaves and petals side by side like gods at rest in a central pool of yellow. There’s too much going on in the space above and below them — swept with giant flowers dappled and blotted with violet and red paint. Here, the layers are too densely tangled, and it’s hard for a viewer to find her way through.


YoAhn Han’s  “In Search of Floral Bodies”
YoAhn Han’s “In Search of Floral Bodies”YoAhn Han/Courtesy Chase Young Gallery

Yet, the artist must push to see how far he can go. In Han’s work, process creates content — which turns out to be a prism for the veils of reality. Sometimes you see it, sometimes you don’t.


At Chase Young Gallery, 450 Harrison Ave., through April 30. 617-859-7222, www.chaseyounggallery.com

Cate McQuaid can be reached at catemcquaid@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter @cmcq.