Some Love It, Others Hate It
Sanghoon Ahn’s paintings resemble a mix of visible things, or images that emerge in the stream of consciousness. He continues with the same overall process, using rapid brushstrokes to apply and blend colors atop the canvas, while the paint is still moist. His composition of the pictorial plane—whether highlighted by color fields, outlines, or the materiality of the paint—shows the refined qualities of a typical “painterly painting”: impromptu, sensitive, intense, but also suitably withdrawn. Painterly painting is a significant approach that preserves the tradition of Abstract Expressionism while also encouraging the contemporary.
Since he started making his spontaneous paintings in 2015, Sanghoon Ahn has used a very unique, arbitrary method of composing titles for his works. Sometimes, for example, he chooses titles based on the serial number of photos of his works on Google, or from random words or phrases retrieved from his search. As of 2020, his titles have been emphasizing accidental or reciprocal analogies, thus highlighting the fragile relationship between titles and images of works.
This method of creating titles connects the abstraction of a painting to a certain event or narrative, thus providing a specific context. Unlike Abstract Expressionist paintings associated solely with conceptual or metaphysical ideas, Ahn’s works have titles—such as On Special Days, We Need a Story, or More Was Not Necessary—that contain narrative hints, transforming them into a page from a diary or a chapter from a novel, rendered on a canvas suffused with an intense pictorial materiality.
Of course, whatever narrative potential may be elicited by the title, the eyes of the viewer are still locked on the nonverbal, connotative pictorial events of the canvas. Indeed, what is the canvas but the evidence or site of decisive events caused or coordinated by the artist, who triggers their collisions? Just as events occur differently each time, the aspects of the objects in the pictorial plane also exist differently each time. As such, the modifiers and limiters of those events are also subject to endless variations. Painting uses the most visual materials to represent the interaction between consciousness and matter in space and time. Sanghoon Ahn’s paintings embody the pictorial event of applying exceptional colors and their materiality to the canvas.
With Ahn, it is never clear what type of consciousness of painting is being emphasized by the inscription of words or sentences. He decided to name this exhibition Some Love It, Others Hate It, a sentence that also appears as a pictorial element in some of the works. Perhaps this vague description reflects the feelings of the artist, or maybe it was derived purely by chance, as explained above. Much like a title itself, the relationship between the title and the works is also implicative. Marcel Duchamp once said that a title of an artwork is an “invisible color.” Certainly for Ahn, the title is one of the many pictorial properties of a painting. His mastery in creating and gathering all of these materials is the foundation for the superb atmosphere and sheer originality of his works.
A “100% painting” refers to a painting that is separate from any particular ideology, style, or trend. Sanghoon Ahn’s works are enriched by the utter lack of relation between the lines, stains, shapes, intensity, and nuance of the brushstrokes and the a mix of colors, shapes, materials, symbols or meaning.
from “Dislocation, an Approach to a 100% Painting” by Hyun Jung (art critic and professor at Inha University)