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Raeleen Kao

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conceptual, figurative, traditional, modern, realism, cut paper mixed media, cut paper, paper, works-on-paper, screenprint, silkscreen, intaglio, printmaking, etching, vanity realism, lithography, disease, death, hair, medical, health issues, vulnerability, human condition, health, self-portrait, portraiture, portrait, contemporary figurative, woman


    In my earliest memory, I was laying heavily sedated on a hospital bed at three years old.  In the four hours prior to that memory, my heart had been cut out from chest and my body sustained on a machine which replicated a heart's function of pumping blood through my arteries.  I see my work as a record from that first memory through a series of separate chronic conditions and surgical procedures which continue to affect my body. 

            I see beauty as a mask for the morbidity of deterioration and draw on the vanity associated with a desperation to produce a facade of stability as the body becomes increasingly susceptible to illness.  The manner in which I depict hair demonstrates the delicacy of an individual strand, the contrived beauty of a braid, and exposes its easily disheveled nature.  Hair exists as a form of pride, infamously with Marie Antoinette to its modern importance with cancer patients.  In my work, I explore hair as a precise record of health and as an extension of femininity and sexual power, made most evident in its absence under the invasive treatment of chemotherapy. 

            I focus on scars, stitches, and biopsy sites which actively externalize one's most intimate medical history.  My self-portraits explore the body as an object vulnerable to physical and psychological trauma as a result of disease and subsequent treatment.  My portrayal of the body confronts the prospect of death and exhibits loss and with exhausted passiveness represented by figures curled up in child-like and fetal positions that convey the impression of sleep. 

            These themes of loss are heavily centered on aspects of the body which anatomically define a woman.  Historically, there has always been a stigma placed upon women who are unable to conceive, who give birth to stillborn children, or suffer through miscarriages.  The shapes I choose to construct reference nests, umbilical cords, and ovum.  These images obsess over a destruction of the female reproductive system and the reoccurring trauma which occurs with the loss of a child.


Recent Exhibits

Raeleen Kao participated in these exhibits:

Feb, 2016 Raeleen Kao & Joanne Aono - Cut and Sown
Firecat Projects
Sep, 2015 Morgan Sims “Metropolis” & Raeleen Kao “Sleeping with Ashes”
Bert Green Fine Art
Oct, 2014 Basilica Chymica
Hoofprint Workshop
Jul, 2014 Group Show of Prints
Bert Green Fine Art
Dec, 2013 Inhospitable
International Museum of Surgical Science
Feb, 2013 Artist Talk, Closing Party
Bert Green Fine Art
Click here to see all exhibits for Raeleen Kao
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