Hannah Yata’s Disturbing Magical Realism

by Roxanne GoldbergPosted on

New York-based painter Hannah Yata creates phantasmagorical paintings featuring female bodies merged with expressive fish heads. Such works as The Walls, They Bleed Tonight, reference art historical motifs and are as equally enticing and as they are disquieting. In this particular work, a plump, Rubenesque female torso sits on a natural plinth with her back to the viewer. Her arm has been cleanly severed, and thus the fleshy torso appears to embody the character of an inanimate sculpture long forgotten in an antique shipwreck. The woman’s head has been replaced with that of an enormous piranha, whose bulbous eye glares at the viewer in either sorrow or ravenous hunger. Themes of extravagant desire are further developed in Yata’s most recent work, Throwing Up the Children. Nude figures reminiscent of the three graces wade in a murky pond as they greedily gorge on mucous-y grey eggs. The cannibalistic image is all the more disturbing as Yata’s virtuoso creates such aesthetically beautiful images that stand in stark contrast to the dark subject matter.

Similarly, Monarch, recently exhibited as part of “Fauna” at Philadelphia’s Arch Enemy Arts, has a dynamic energy that is both vibrant and erotic. The action is expressed through charged female hands in evocative poses, and twin fish heads which strain their gilled necks to look up at an ominously dark sky with glazed eyes and parted mouths. Occupying the foreground, the inversed mermaid figure is surrounded by exquisitely fragile butterflies and flowers in canary yellows and royal purples. Together, the composition succeeds at evoking a sense of urgency and sensuality.


Throwing Up the Children

The Walls, They Bleed Tonight


It Hits the Fan

Black Mascara

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