Fans of Jackson Pollock’s abstract expressionism will find a contemporary kindred spirit in the South Korean artist KwangHo Shin at his new exhibition, now open in Chelsea.
The portrait-heavy show at Unix Gallery, collectively titled "제목이 없는 존재" ("There Is No Title") is the product of the Seoul-based artist’s recent residency in New York City. The question marks reflect the daily experience of a city full of individuals blurring as they pass by countless other anonymous faces on the street.
The collection includes self-portraits, models and even internationally known celebrities — but you probably won’t be able to guess who they are. Shin’s impasto technique blurs and covers up their faces: The portraits are done in charcoal before he applies thick globs of colorful oil paint over them.
The effect transforms the pieces into a glimpse of the subject’s interior emotions rather than their exterior looks, with viewers left to interpret them through the colors and swirls of Shin’s brushstrokes.
“I think that it’s impossible to express complicated and subtle emotions through words,” Shin says. “I express different emotions that are hard to explain through my artistic visual language.”
The paintings also express Shin’s emotions while creating them.
“When I am painting, I don’t exactly plan what colors I will use,” he explains. “During the painting process I change my ideas and feelings many times. I just focus on that feeling; that moment... I put the totality of my energy into that feeling so that when a work is complete, I feel peaceful.”