Some might find the textures and hues of Dan Lam’s solo exhibition Guttation at Hashimoto Contemporary NYC visually challenging, but that’s the point. This new series of alien-like sculptures was inspired by a peculiar yet vital purging process for vascular plants and fungi called “guttation,” where plants expel excessive nutrients in their system. Continuing to explore the tension between desire and disgust, the Dallas-based artist suspends the attractive and repulsive aspects of natural oozing, seeping, weeping, and gushing through her chaotically controlled studio process. Exploring guttation through over sixty works of various sizes, Lam suggests that something necessary might be vile; something vile might be beautiful.

Known for her colorful drip sculptures, the techniques used to create this body of work mark a new period of studio exploration that resulted in fresh textures and colors. With the sensibilities of a mad scientist, the young artist mixes and pours elixirs of artificial and natural plastics, including resin, polyurethane, foam, and acrylic, to conjure her bizarre, grotesque forms. Adding dots of blue, purple, red, or brown under a translucent epidermis, Lam pushes familiar materials into unconventional embodiments, daring viewers to confront their own entitlement to a “beautiful” art object.

While Lam took inspiration from all types of guttation, she revered the Devil Tooth fungus: a mushroom that weeps glistening tears of ruby-red moisture during periods of rapid energy release. Like the Devil Tooth, Lam’s sculptures exemplify how all forms of life adapt to environmental circumstances in ways that might be unappealing to other life forms. Though inspired by something remarkable, the blend of textures and pigmentation might provoke the same feelings of unease or disgust aroused from a glimpse of the bleeding, unpalatable mushroom. Occupying a sweet spot between ravishing and revolting, the works in Guttation reveal an ugly truth—survival isn’t always pretty.

Guttation opens on Saturday, December 16th, 2023, with a reception from 6-8 pm and is on view through January 6th, 2024.