AHN CHANG HONG: Unfinished Rehearsal

29 September - 23 December 2022
Installation Views
Press release

50 Years of Ahn Chang Hong’s Artistic Trajectory:
From The Salvia Flowerbed to Ghost Fashion (1971-2022)


This exhibition of Ahn Chang Hong at Wooson Gallery is a panoramic show of his path as an artist, that is, his 50-year artistic trajectory, displaying his oeuvre from his early to recent works. Thus, it was curated in the form of a small retrospective exhibition that looks back on the transformation in his thoughts, focusing on the transitional works of Ahn.

The show chronologically presents his works since his debut as a painter from the early 1970s. This exhibition is like a synopsis and a movie trailer before a full-fledged retrospective show. The exhibition is intended to shed light on the ever-changing themes penetrating through his works, a deviant gaze from the territories of fantasy and unconsciousness, harsh remarks about human conditions, erotic desire that flows thrillingly between fiction and tragedy, and sad awe toward nature and plants that are not abandoned.

The colorful materials that Ahn has dealt with can be said to be artistic strata that cross the insights and personal fantasies of the times that have been captured with a purposeful gaze. While his early oil paintings up to the 70s were of a period of work in a single blue tone, his series titled Post-Human and Family Photo were released from the late 1979 which manifested his unique style. It was a time when his gloomy and pessimistic view of the world were distinctively revealed, such as proof of the absence of pupils and implication of death behind harmony. The series of Dangerous Play, which began in the early 80s, featured ritual acts that could have come out of Satan’s world. From the mid-80s to the early 90s, the series of Bird, which faced tragic end or tragedy, was released with variations in expression such as painting, drawing, and object collage. Expressions he attempted for contemporaneously during the period erupted like volcanoes in freewheeling and tireless imagination and fantastic images, such as terracotta relief, paper objects, wood sculptures, drawings, and object collages in painting series and masks series reflecting the then times and trends centered on Faces and Human series. This period was around 1988, when his studio was relocated to Yangpyeong. As he passed his mid-30s, his nomadic thoughts, paradoxically, ran through the territory without boundaries in a stable studio. The period of the 90s was when his human series manifested wide-ranging variations of which revealed the fictions and what is behind excessive desires of people back then as well as the gloomy times, while maintaining a certain connection with Minjung(people’s) art. Since the 2000s, however, his paintings have blossomed more diversely while he travelled abroad where sketched scenes in the Gobi Desert, India, Nepal and Greece. Released were his works of different styles: his works such as Sad EvaporationBlindness and Mask where relief or sculptural forms of deformed human faces emerged like a requiem dedicated to the human soul; and his series of Cockscomb focusing on the life and death of cockscombs he discovered in the garden of his studio, and kitsch elements found in his large object works as in Heart of the Artist and Hands of the Artist series. Ghost Fashion (2021) was a facet of the matured entity of the theme newly implemented as if to dig out the aesthetics of fiction contained in Post-Human (1979).

Ahn Chang Hong: Unfinished Rehearsal held at Wooson Gallery will be an exhibition analytically and de-constructively reconfiguring a navigational map without the coordinates of his unfinished pictorial map. It is an homage dedicated in advance to the ritual of a retrospective exhibition that will someday be revealed and still unfold in artistic delusion. With a bird’s eye view of the 50-year trajectory of Ahn Chang Hong’ paintings, the exhibition is composed of his paintings, drawings, reliefs, three-dimensional sculptures, objects, collages, and photographs as if to overlook the overall aspects of his works. Ahn Chang Hong: Unfinished Rehearsal was prepared as a special arrangement show for the Wooson Gallery edition where Ahn Chang Hong’s artistic narrative is newly illuminated. (*)