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Neo-Peony

Seongmin Ahn

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Seongmin Ahn

 

Exhibition Dates: March 21 - Aprill 3, 2012


My tradition has become a meaningful and direct inspiration to my artwork. I have worked for several museums and 
cultural institutions in New York, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Korea Society. I believe the main goals of 
these institutions are to bridge a gap between different eras and cultures, while introducing and educating the audience 
suggesting a new perspective to view. They also provide a tradition that emphasizes a foundation of the present, which 
is often neglected in other commercial or alternative gallery spaces in New York. These important roles provided by the 
institutions clearly are reflected on my own artwork. 

 The main subjects and images used in my recent paintings are predominantly extracted from ‘Minhwa*’ that is slightly 
altered for an individual painting. In this show, I focused on ‘Peony’ painting, which was regarded as the most beautiful 
flower in Korea. It was a popular subject in Minhwa, which represents wealth and prosperity. It was used as decoration 
for the weatlthy, specifically in the women’s powder room in the form of a folding screen decorated with extravagant 
images of peony. In addition, a tiger (king of animals in Korea), has also been depicted in different ways, denoting 
fierceness, intelligence, wit and compassion. 

 In Neo-Peony series, I juxtapose Peony flowers with a tiger, which depicts a fragile flower as a gigantic and dominant 
creature next to a fierce tiger as a tiny and witty character resting on a flower. I like the use of role reversals of different 
parties and relationships between them in society. The end result emphasizes the character as Yin and Yang, but now the 
small and fragile flower has elicited a strong and powerful energy somewhere inside. The same is true with a fierce tiger 
that results in a gentle nature within him. 

In Flat file series, I emphasize a reverse perspective, which the painter’s perspective exists inside looking out with the 
vanishing point existing in front of the painting. This technique shows more sides of an object, suggesting to viewers to 
confront multiple perspectives of an object. In conventional Renaissance perspective, a painter stands outside of a canvas 
looking at a painting objectively, forcing the viewer to view the painting from the painters viewpoint. 


 Materials and techniques from Korean traditional painting are used such as Korean ink, color powder with cow bone 
glue (rabbit skin glue) on mulberry paper. Multiple thin layers of contrasting and translucent color were applied to create 
profound depth and saturation. Line is also one of the most important elements, which redefines a shape and gives 
another dimension in color combination. 

*Minhwa is a traditional Korean Folk Painting from the 18th and 19th Century. It was created by and for the common 
people and it became well appreciated amongst them. Minhwa shows the unique creativity and identity of the common 
people in Korea. Its main characteristics are bright and vibrant color, repetition, flatness and decorative elements, which 
was very liberal and self modernized genre in Korea. Most of the paintings were lost throughout the colonial period and 
various wars, but nowadays its beauty and value has been rediscovered and appreciated. Its images are used in many 
different ways. 

 

Seonhmin Ahn BIO

 

Born in Seoul, Korea, 1970. 
Lives and works in New York 
 
Education 

 

2001     M.F.A. Mixed Media, Maryland Institute College of Art, Mount Royal Graduate School 
1997     M.F.A. Asian Traditional Painting, Seoul National University 
1995     B.F.A. Asian Traditional Painting, Seoul National University 
 
Solo Exhibitions 

 

2012     Neo-Peony, Gallery Ho, New York, NY 
            Come and Play at my Minhwa Garden, Yegam Art Space, Flushing, NY 
2011     Storytelling, Voelker Orth Museum, Flushing, NY 
2009     White Square; perspective exercise, Local Project, Long Island City, NY 
2006     Particles Are Also Waves, Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, Wilmington, DE 
2005     Mono.logue, Queens College Art Center, Flushing, New York 
2004     New York Report ; Seongmin Ahn, White Wall Gallery, Seoul, Korea 
            Weaving Pain, Kerrigan Campbell art + project, New York, NY 
2003     Beyond, Project ’03, Carriage House, Islip Art Museum, Islip, NY 
2001     Meditation, Gomez Gallery, Baltimore, MD 
            Meditation; M.F.A. Thesis Exhibition, Fox Gallery, Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD 
1998     Floating, Gallery Boda, Seoul, Korea 
 
Selected Group Exhibitions

 

2011     Reinterpretation: Seongmin Ahn and Minjoo Kim, Gallery Cha, Seoul, Korea 
            Diary Painting and Reading Painting, Hello Museum, Seoul, Korea 
            New Reason, Howard county Education Hall, Baltimore, MD 
            Art Market, Yegam Art Space, Flushing, NY 
2010     Employee Show, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY 
            MICA in New York, Spattered Columns, New York, NY 
2009     Invitation show, KORUS House, Ambassy of Korea, Washington DC 
2008     Alumni Show; Seoul National University, NahRah Gallery, Fort Lee, NJ 
            50 Edition Project, Local Project, Long Island City, NY 
2006     In Light, Gallery Aferro, Newark, NJ 
2005     Repeating Spaces, Art Gallery, Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ 
            No End But Addition, Vox Populi, Philadelphia, PA 
2004     Re.Occurrence, Taste of Art, New York, NY 
            Scene/Unscene, 473 Broadway Gallery, New York, NY 
            ArtLink @ Sotheby’s International Young Art, (traveling show) Tel Aviv, Amsterdam, Moscow 
            No End, But Addition, Pierro Gallery, South Orange County, NJ 
            Meditation in New York, 473 Broadway Gallery, New York, NY 
            Abstraction Identity, Pelham Art Center, Pelham, NJ 
            Juried show, Gallery Korea, Korean Cultural Service, Embassy of the Republic of Korea, Washington D.C. 
            In the Face of others; NURTUREart at LMCC, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, New York, NY 
2003     Seasonal Litter, Broadway Gallery Annex, New York, NY 
            No End, But Addition, Spaces Gallery, Cleveland, Ohio 
            Flicker, Transplant Gallery, New York, NY 
            Seongmin Ahn and Haejung Oh, Washington Arts Center, Arlington, VA 
            Space and Surface Painting, Gallery Korea, New York. NY 
            Shaping Wholeness, Elmhurst Hospital Center, organized by Asian American Arts Center, Elmhurst, NY 
            Works on Paper, Annual Juried Show, Perkins Center for the Arts, Moorestown, NJ. 
            Nurturing the New, NURTUREart, New York, NY 
            Curators’ showcase, in showcase of Margaret Bodell, Viewing Room, New York, NY 
2002     Contrary Equilibriums: 12th Annual Exhibition, The Asian American Arts Center, New York, NY 
            eMotion Picture, United Nations, New York, NY 
2001     Academy 2001, Corner Contemporary Gallery, Washington D.C. 
            Masters Juried Show, Fox Gallery, Maryland Institute, College of Art, Baltimore, MD 
            eMotion Picture, (traveling show) San Francisco, CA, Washington, D.C., Chicago, IL 
            x<16 x 13, Fox Hall, Baltimore, MD 
2000     About Drawing, The Park School Gallery, Baltimore, MD 
            Mt. Royal Show, Thesis Gallery, Maryland Institute, College of Art, Baltimore, MD 
            Mt. Royal Alumni Show, Thesis Gallery, Maryland Institute, College of Art, Baltimore, MD 
            Mt. Royal Show, Thesis Gallery, Maryland Institute, College of Art, Baltimore, MD 
1998     Mt. Royal Show, Thesis Gallery, Maryland Institute, College of Art, Baltimore, MD 
1997     Grand Art Show by Joong-Ang Daily News, Hoam Art Hall, Seoul, Korea 
            Show of Grand Art Competition by Art World, Kyung-In Gallery, Seoul, Korea 
            Exhibition of Grand Art Competition, Grand Art Hall, Moon-Hwa Broadcast Company, Seoul, Korea 
            20th Anniversary Show, Sun-Hwa Art School, Seoul, Korea 
            M.F.A. Thesis Show, Museum of Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea 
            Po-Il Exhibition, Cultural Center of S.N.U., Seoul, Korea 
            Exchange Show, Seoul National University & Tokyo University, Seoul, Korea 
1995     New Form and Spirit, Do-Ol Gallery, Seoul, KoreaExchange Show, Seoul University & Tokyo University, Tokyo, Japan 
 
Teaching Experience 

 

2008-Present     Instructor, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY 
2008-Present     Instructor, Queens Museum of Art, Flushing, New York 
2008-Present     Instructor, Creative Center for Women with Cancer, New York, NY 
2008-2010         Instructor, Korean Cultural Service, New York, NY