Gunwoo Shin (b. 1979) creates works that are described as “sculptures of theatrical situations”. The character in Shin’s relief is positioned at the center of the image plane like an actor on stage, delivering a soliloquy. The background is boldly simplified or appears surreal in relation to the character, creating a captivating theatrical presentation. The counterparts to Shin’s stage-like reliefs are his carving-in-the round works that push the actor further out from the artwork. The scenes in Shin’s paintings are allusions to a stage completely cleared of actors.
Shin Gunwoo began working on, or towards flat(ter) surfaces in 2012, with aluminum plates. The attempts were more an extension of his relief works and could be described as flattened sculptures. Aluminum plates were layered, shaped, and polished with enamel paint, spray, and urethane paint, and then the process was repeated in layers to create a desired figure. At first, the aluminum plates served as backgrounds of reliefs, but then human figures were removed from them. Think of them as a stage where the actor has disappeared. What remains is merely space, made to convey a sense of situation.
A vacated stage and a background without human figure relief are both abstract and poetic. Wrinkled fabric and the faces that seem to blur away are traces of figures now unseen. Most of what catches the eye are oddly familiar yet cannot be named. To some extent, they resemble the background space behind human figures and their shadows. The lines that direct the speed and direction resemble the composition of figures on the canvas which dictate a particular point of view. Shin Gunwoo states that he wanted to convey a particular a tone, emotion, or atmosphere of a situation. To call it merely background would be careless. We must call it a “landscape”.