Doojin Ahn


Doojin Ahn created the term “Imaquark”, which means the fundamental unit of image, and uses this as the basic concept of his work. He believes that there is a force that drives the creation of image on the canvas; he thus sees painting from the perspective of “image that comes into being” rather than “image that is painted,” and strives to create works that “become” paintings themselves. We witness rather unstable and unrealistic scenes in his works; yet they are not reflective of his emotions or narratives, but are the results of his continuous struggles to divide or disassemble elements of painting or attempts to return to the essential, early conditions of painting.

Doojin AHN (b.1975) graduated from Hongik University with BFA and MFA degrees in painting and is currently enrolled in the doctoral program in painting at the same university. He was named the emerging artist in the JoongAng Fine Arts Competition in 2005 and won the Chongkundang Art Award in 2013. Ahn’s works are part of the collections at major art institutions in Korea, including the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea, Seoul Museum of Art, and Gyeonggi Museum of Modern Art, and also a part of the art collection of Oliver Stone, who is an American film director and one of the major art collectors around the world.

Doojin AHN created his own formative theory called “Imaquark” to express his work. Imaquark is a compound word of “ima” of “image” and “quark”, which is a fundamental particle of matter. Imaquark originated from the attempt at proving that art can be divided into units and to specify the world of formative arts we imagine and that allows.

Doo-jin Ahn
Solo Exhibitions
2019 Tide: Goooo-, Leehwaik Gallery, Seoul
2017 Trade Art Lounge: Doo-jin Ahn, Trade Tower, Seoul
2016 Planning & Selfing, Leehwaik Gallery, Seoul
2014 A Stone, Johyun Gallery, Busan
2013 Oort Cloud, Leehwaik Gallery, Seoul
2012 A Morning in the Limbo, Space Can, Beijing
2011 The Fault Lines, Songeun Art Space, Seoul
2009 History of Izzard, Cais Gallery, Hong Kong
2008 Covert Party at Makcom, Project Space Sarubia, Seoul
2006 Saint Brain Temple, Brain Factory, Seoul
2005 Fantastic Hot Story, Gyeonggi Cultural Foundation, Suwon
Selected Group Exhibitions
2021 Intercambio De Miradas Artisticas, Galeria Han-ul, Centro Culural Coreano en Espana, Madrid
Group Exhibition, Gallery Mark, Seoul
Spring Collection, Leehwaik Gallery, Seoul
2020 The 40th Anniversary of the May 18 Democratic Uprising Special Exhibition:
To Reach a Star, Gwangju Museum of Art, Gwangju
Autumn Breeze, Leehwaik Gallery, Seoul
Garden, Leehwaik Gallery, Seoul
Time to Say Hello, Gallery Royal, Seoul
2019 The Adventures of Korean Painting: I Will Go Away All by Myself,
National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea, Cheongju
Chongkundang Yesuljisang: The Era of the Painting, Sejong Museum of Art, Seoul
2017 Meta-scape, Wooyang Museum of Contemporary Art, Gyeongju
2016 Changwon Sculpture Biennale, Sungsan Art Hall, Changwon
2015 Chongkundang Yesuljisang, Gana Insa Art Center, Seoul
2014 Neo Sansu, Daegu Art Museum, Daegu
The Eyes on Painting: Multi-painting, OCI Museum of Art, Seoul
2013 Super Natural, CHRISTIE’S Gallery, New York
La Convivencia, Gallery Chosun, Seoul
2012 Galapagos, Ilmin Museum of Art, Seoul
Thinking of Sarubia,Leehwaik Gallery, Seoul
Young Artists Project: Meta Empire, EXCO, Daegu
Korean Eye, Saatchi Gallery, London
Hanok Project: Open Studio, Hanok Studio, Seoul
Shift, Johyun Gallery, Seoul
Testing Testing 1. 2. 3, Songeun Art Space, Seoul
2011 Haein Art Project, Haein Temple, Hapcheon
Decameron: Disclosure of Subconscious Desires, Space Can, Beijing
Thinking of Sarubia, Gana Contemporary, Seoul
Shift, Johyun Gallery, Seoul
2010 Collage of Memory, Soka Art Center, Beijing
Korea Tomorrow, SETEC 3, Seoul
Space-Transformation, Oulim Nuri Arts Center, Goyang
Real Antenna, Space Haam, Seoul
Healing, SMA Seongbuk Young Art Space, Seoul
In Between, One & J Gallery, Seoul
Lack of Being, Interalia, Seoul
Gazing Beyond, Gallery b’ONE, Seoul
Mongin Art Space Open Studio, Mongin Art Space, Seoul
Point, Kyoto Art Center, Kyoto
S.A.I.C: From Desire to Sublime, Hongik Museum of Art, Seoul
2009 Room Project: One Day, Total Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul
A New Common Sense of Space,
Museo della Scienza della Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci, Milan
Io, Harlem Studio Fellowship, New York
Doors, Sylvia Wald and Po Kim Art Gallery, New York
Up and Comers, Total Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul
Do Window, Gallery Hyundai, Seoul
Joongang Fine Arts Prize, Hangaram Art Museum of Seoul Arts Center, Seoul
2008 I am an Artist-Young Korean Artist,
National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea, Gwacheon
Busan Biennale: Sea Art Festival, Me-world, Busan
Point, Alternative Space LOOP, Seoul
The Bridge, Insa Art Center, Seoul
Privacy, Alternative Space LOOP, Seoul
Privacy, Gallery Eighty, Singapore
Privacy, Canvas International Art, Amsterdam
2007 Stress Fighter, Alternative Space Pool, Seoul
Hi Pop, Yemac Gallery, Seoul
Nice to Meet You, Lewisham Arthouse, London
Art Forecast, Nam-Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul
The Surplus Time, The Gallery, Seoul
Hey Jude, Gallery Royal, Seoul
2006 Drawn to Drawing, Seoul Olympic Museum of Art, Seoul
Door to Door 4, Alternative Space Pool, Seoul
2005 Pop-i-Con, Kimi Art Gallery, Seoul
Joongang Fine Arts Prize, Hangaram Art Museum of Seoul Arts Center, Seoul
Cutting Edge, Seoul Auction Space, Seoul
2004 Art and Playing, Hangaram Art Museum of Seoul Arts Center, Seoul
Attack the Soy Factory, Sempio Space, Incheon
Talking to the Wall, ARKO Art Center, Seoul
2013 Chongkundang Yesuljisang, Korea Mecenat Association,
Artspace Hue, Chongkundang Holdings Co.
2011 Can Foundation Hanok Project, Seoul
2008-2010 Mongin Art Studio, Seoul
2009 Harlem Studio Fellowship, New York
2007-2008 MMCA Residency Changdong, Seoul
기금 선정
2009 해외교류지원, 문예진흥기금잉
2006 경기문화재단 지원기금
2005 경기문화재단 지원기금
National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea
Seoul Museum of Art
Gyeonggi Museum of Modern Art
Songeun Art Space
Oliver Stone Collections
Colección Solo

Curator : Sunghui Lee & Aritst : Doojin Ahn


Q. Please explain the concept of ‘Imaquark,’ which is a keyword in understanding your world of paintings, Doojin. My understanding is that it is a compound word you conceived by combining the words ‘image’ and ‘quark,’ which refers to a fundamental constituent of matter.
Upon reading Arthur Danto’s After the End of Art in school, I found myself asking, “Has art arrived at a state of true liberty, where anything can be done?” Ironically, I also felt like I was thrown in the wildnerness, where I am unable to do anything. At the time, there was plenty of discussion on genome projects and quantum mechanics, and I was deeply fascinated by contemporary science books related to these topics. This led me to think that art may not always consist of points, lines, and planes, and also thought deeply about the smallest unit that constructs images. I thought that new forms can be born out of managing Imaquarks differently, and I intended to demonstrate such course of thinking through metaphors.


Q. Then could you please elaborate on how the concept of Imaquark comes into play in creating images on the canvas?
I adopted the shadow of sublimity as an inevitable concept in contemplating the potential of Imaquark and its ways of operation. There is a sense of discomfort and anxiety in sublime beauty. What adjusts this sentiment of anxiety is the possibility of safety. Here, we can think about a safe distance between the object and the self. I sought to remove the narrative of the image as a way of eliminating the gap between the object and myself. By that, I mean that I tried to revert to the early conditions by using primary colors or dividing or disassembling elements, which I think is a method of the artist erasing oneself.


Q. Painting is a medium through which an artist conveys his/her ideas, but it is also a material and gesture of the artist. I’m interested in the actual process through which your painting is made.
There is no room for personal emotions in my paintings. I start painting after applying a coat of fluorescent color on the snow-white canvas first, and the more primary color is painted over it, the more off it looks. I pursue clash and contrast and work as though I am following the paint, and the work becomes a painting in itself, leaving no room for emotions and even removing the artist’s unconsciousness.


Q. Then what do you think is the role of the artist in making and completing a piece of painting?
In analyzing Francis Bacon’s painting in the book The Logic of Sensation, Deleuze says that a painter confronts catastrophe in front of a blank canvas and that painting is born only once that catastrophe is overcome. I apply a coat of fluorescent color paint on an empty canvas as a primer, and then paint other primary colors over it, thinking that I must quickly cover that primer layer. That means that I work with the methodologies of clash and contrast, following traces of paint already applied on the canvas. Hence, I think I can say that my role in creating a painting is transporting paint to the canvas.


Q. The colors and artistic style of your work remind us of surrealist paintings or scenes from science fiction films. What are your thoughts on interpreting your work from this perspective?
What drives the painting until its completion is not personal emotions or narrative, but the act of repeatedly painting over traces of paint on the canvas, even with the artist’s unconsciousness removed. I use a lot of neon colors and bright colors that are like-primary colors, but that shouldn’t be understood as an obsession. It is going back to primary colors, which are the basic elements or conditions of color, as a part of eliminating narrative and dividing and disassembling elements. In fact, I prefer probablistic painting, by which I mean that I adopt motifs from my earlier works, give variations in shape, color, and the way they are painted, and thereby conduct new experiments on similarities or similar shapes of paintings.