Thalia Vrachopoulos,Ph,D Music and Art John Jay College of the City University of New York
Present Absence: Dual Realities in the Work of RAN HWANG
 
 Ostensibly, it may appear as if Ran Hwang is engaging in dualisms dark/light, void/solid, but her work reaches so much further while even challenging her own historic past. Hwang is always growing as a creator something that for some artists of her generation who have understood staticity as maturity, is antithetical to Korean traditional ways. Recently, her exhibited works have demonstrated just how committed she is to developing her work by producing ambitious yet meaningful pieces that speak to issues beyond beauty or ethnic pattern.
 For her Beijing solo Hwang again exceeds expectations by producing large yet significantly layered philosophically astute works. Among these is her Chandelier piece that is multi-layered by cobwebs and arachnid-like linear networks giving the work a palimpsest effect that maintains viewer attention. The suggestion is that beauty is only skin deep and is often underlined by insidious aspects that negate its very existence.
 Hwang¡¯s black, gray and turquoise Eagle struggles to survive an attack by a smaller predatory bird pecking at its head, thus nature is at war, dissentious, and adversarial. The work reflects the antagonistic conditions of present day life consequently it speaks to the issues of its own time.And, herBotthisattva based loosely upon the originalSilla Dynasty Pensive Bodhisattva Maitreya,gentlybends at the waist to lean his arm on his crossed leg. His one left leg and part of his drapery are dissolving into blossom-like patterns dematerializing the solidity of the bottommost areas. This aspect is like the flatness and gold areas of Byzantine iconography that speak to the spirituality of holy images through lacking of solidity.
 It was during thetime Buddhism entered Korea through China from India that sophisticated architectural temple forms were adopted in Korea. Temple architecture plays a significant part in Hwang¡¯s oeuvre as seen in her monumental Temple Complexwhichalthough ethereal in its white and pale green color, in its ghostlike form seems to be commenting on the loss of a glorious past and perhaps traditional spirituality. While the temples in the foreground are green they are overlaying white buildings in the background that due to their neutral tone can be read as disappearing or somehow losing their solidity analogous to the loss of royal power.
 Hwang¡¯s piece de resistance is a multi-layered, multi-dimensional, multi-media work that also incorporates ritual space with solid form. Her characteristic plum blossoms, are executed in buttons on Plexiglas while a video projection throws their image onto the wall that changes their color. Into this work, she introduces at intervals, linear spider webs, depicted as 3 dimensional objects but also seen through a video projection. This layering process results in great complexity making for an interactive environment of multi-leveled consequence that like Hwang¡¯s career has grown and expanded exponentially.