Sanghoon Ahn

Sanghoon Ahn(Gallery Chosun)

The artist’s oeuvre consists of coincidences, spontaneous inspirations and irritations, which end in endless possibilities for association and offer the viewer a dialogue with art in an immersive exchange. In addition, his paintings interact with its respective environment without deriving any claim to perfection.

Ahn Sanghoon’s work considers how to relate thoughts and senses with reproduction and abstraction, language and images, and vibration between planes and space. He also ponders on how to extend the uncertainty of paintings that can’t be clearly verbalized to various spaces and situations.

Ahn has presented his works at the Galleria Line (2022, Seoul), Incheon Art Platform (2018, Incheon), and Kreismuseum (2016, Osterburg, Germany), and also participated in several group exhibitions at Museum Head, Cultural Reserve, Surim Art Center, Plan B Project Space, Tempelhof Museum (Germany), and Kunsthalle Münster. Ahn has participated in domestic and foreign residency programs at Kunsthof Dahrenstedt, MMCA Residency Goyang, Incheon Art Platform, Myeongryun-dong Workshop, and Gyeonggi Creation Center, and is currently a resident artist at the Nanji Residency of the Seoul Museum of Art (2022).

Ahn Sanghoon is wary of painting being captivated by interpretation and meaning beyond the distinction between ideas and abstractions, and he continues to escape from the obsession with meaning. Hence his pictorial vocabulary feels more like a ring around the moon or murmurs rather than something specific. He prefers making the process of painting appear by focusing on the fundamental act of painting, rather than focusing on reproducing something. However, drawing in his work is paradoxically linked to erasing. Ahn Sanghoon uses the vocabulary of abstract painting – dots, physical properties, and brushstrokes – but tries to create a mismatch of shape and meaning. This intended deviation leaves room that can lead to unexpected meanings or to a process of chance and necessity, choice and abandonment.
– Traces of Murmur (2021), Jeong Hyeon, Art Critic

Ahn Sanghoon focuses on painting and images that trace the discrepancies between meaning and shape. Before painting, the artist sets the proposition of the work by googling or borrows the title of a previous work to have it function as a temporary symbol. Familiar propositions or symbols serve as the starting point of an image and the basis for interpretation, but they are perfectly abstract. Ahn’s painting eventually moves back and forth between chance and necessity, as well as stimulation and acceptance, forming a “net” of images that are never familiar or unfamiliar. The transience of “flowers” has much to do with this thought process of his work, and in Smile Again (2021), symbols such as “rose” and “lily” bloom in an arbitrary world that must be rejected once again. The movement and traces of color that cover and subvert established clarity ask how certain meanings and emotions are expressed in abstract painting and whether the desire to be purely visual is eventually confirmed through the horizon of residues. <2021 MUSEUMHEAD (Flowers)>

Sanghoon Ahn
2014 Meisterschüler, Kunstakademie Münster, Münster, Germany
2013 Akademiebrief(Diplom), Kunstakademie Münster, Münster, Germany
2002 B.F.A. in Fine Arts, Chung-Ang University
(Selected) Solo Exhibitions
2022 <Wrinkles in repeated sentences>, gallery chosun, Seoul
2020 <On special days, we need a story ­ not to wait alone, to remain forgotten>
, gallery chosun, Seoul
2018 <This Year’s Platform Artist> Embrace the Uncertainty, Incheon Art platform, Incheon
<My shoes are a bit more colorful>, gallery chosun, Seoul
2017 <GOOD; PAINTING>, Incheon Art platform Warehouse Gallery, Incheon
2016 <No bread grows on asphalt>, Kreis Museum, Osterburg, Germany
2014 <Unusual house>, Sparkasse Buer, Gelsenkirchen, Germany
(Selected) Group Exhibitions
2022 PAGE ONE, Surim Cube, Seoul
NANJI ACCESS with PACK: Mbps, Seoul Museum Art, Seoul
2021 <volume, light, rhythm>, Space CAN + Old House, Seoul
Manifold: Manual, Seoul Arts Center
Flowers , MUSEUMHEAD, Seoul
2020 Empty Continuous Word, Sampio-Space, Icheon
Soft Walls, Dry Fruits, n/a gallery, Seoul
2019 Uneven Growing Point, Culture Oil Tank T1, Seoul
The haunted walk, Gyeonggi Creation Center
Surim Award, Surim Artcenter, Seoul
2018 veni vidi vici, Plan B Project space, Seoul
Image in image, Artspace Hue, Paju
2015 Tempelhofer Art Exhibition, Galerie im Tempelhof Museum, Berlin, Germany
2014 Foerderpreis, Kunsthalle Münster, Münster, Germany
Kunstverein virtuell-visuell e.v., Dorsten, Germany
2013 MALERNORMALEAKTIVITÄTEN, NRW Representative Office, Brussels, Belgium
2012 The sex of work, Gelsenkirchen Art Museum, Gelsenkirchen, Germany
Mainzer Art Award Eisenturm, Mainz, Germany
2011 on the way-home, Kaunas, Lithuania
2010 NordArt, Kunstwerk Carlshütte, Büdelsdorf, Germany
2019 SUMM-ER, mixed media, Dimensions variable, Gyeonggi Creation Center
Solo Show + gallery chosun, Seoul
2018 OPEN WINDOW ATELIER ‘from the moment you walk through the door until the moment you leave’, Incheon Art platform, Incheon
2017 The Museum for you, Open Studio, Incheon Art Platform
Awards and Grants
2019 Surim Award, Soorim Cultural Foundation, Seoul
2018 Public Art New Hero, Seoul
2017 This Year’s Platform Artist Award, Incheon Art Platform
2015 Work Scholarship Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany
2022 Nanji Residency Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul
2021 CAN foundation, Seoul
2020 MMCA Residency Goyang
2019 Gyeonggi Creation Center, Ansan
2017-18 Incheon Art Platform, Incheon
2015 Residency Kunsthof Dahrenstedt, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany
Public Collections

Curator : Annette Doms & Artist : Sanghoon Ahn

Neutral painting or experiment?

At first glance, Sanghoon Ahn’s abstract paintings may be reminiscent of European masterpieces of Impressionism or Fauvism, of American abstraction by de Kooning, as well as of German painters such as Daniel Richter or Neo Rauch. At second glance, however, they are far less abstract than they might appear and offer their own history.

The basis for his colorful, abstract works are figurative and personal photographs: landscapes, objects or people, the artist took on his smartphone, some of which have been stored as digital trash for several months. Seemingly forgotten becomes the object of his art and is transformed into abstraction with help of paint. Object and abstraction, meaning and emptiness merge into one another. And this is probably precisely why the works by Sanghoon Ahn seem so familiar to us.

The process of selection as well as the factor of time play a major role. His paintings follow several steps and do not end after the last application of paint. What is still missing are the titles of the works. Sanghoon Ahn finds them by photographing the paintings, assigning serial numbers and using these digital numbers to search for titles on Google. Therefore the relationship between the title and the works does not reveal from the work itself, but from the coincidence provided by a search engine. As side effect the titles charge the paintings with unusual content, which at the same time also establish new levels of visual imagery. The titles of his works are therefore ambiguous and demonstrate the artist’s ironic distance from pre-established patterns of thought. What is decisive is what the viewer makes out of it – what is thought about the process of artistic creation that has started.

It is part of the artist’s principle that Sanghoon Ahn avoids any unambiguousness, but nevertheless he offers hints so that the recipient can interact free of ideas as well as associatively. However, the complexity of his work goes further. Because although Sanghoon Ahn presents contemporary painting, he breaks through the medium by offering color across all media. The space itself, regardless of whether it is a canvas or an exhibition space, is irrelevant; the artist thinks in color and uses different materials to set it in motion. Overall, his works refer to an associative structure of productive forces. Sanghoon Ahn is a seeker who combines tradition and the present with vision, using color as a procedural materiality. Works by Sanghoon Ahn are not told in a linear manner, but are simultaneously presented to the viewer, so that he or she can become part of the work or even be called to act via the title (“ Add the broccoli and grapes”). Almost overloaded rooms and partially overwhelmed recipients enter into an exciting dialogue.

The artist’s oeuvre consists of coincidences, spontaneous inspirations and irritations, which end in endless possibilities for association and offer the viewer a dialogue with art in an immersive exchange. In addition, his paintings interact with its respective environment without deriving any claim to perfection.


Annette Doms, 2022