KwangHo Shin

Artist Q&A with KwangHo Shin

 KwangHo Shin attempts to capture the complex relationship between the expression of emotion and the experience of the mind. With roots in Abstract Expressionism, he employs intense and vibrant oils juxtaposed with charcoal to distort the facial features of his subjects and confront them psychologically.

The artist deliberately refuses the depiction of precise form and proportion in an effort to transcend conventional representation and in turn confronts a more visceral type of portraiture. Faces are deconstructed but retain the power of expression as the artist reimagines them in a patchwork of carefully yet energetically applied strokes of color. Shin’s paintings convey the inner psychological processes of his subjects but also remind the viewer of the artist’s presence.

“[21p09] untitled”, oil on canvas, 21 x 16 in | 53 x 41 cm, 2021

Who is your favorite artist of all time?

My favorite artists include Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon, and Alberto Giacometti.

How did you become a professional artist?

Because I used to like making or drawing something, I went to an art high school and naturally went to an art school. By making works and posting them on social media after graduation, I was able to arrive at this point. I just did what I enjoyed doing.

What are the influences and inspirations in your work?

The images in my art are shaped through the emotions formed in conversation with the people around me, and the images and stories gathered through mass media such as the news.

KwangHo Shin, self-portrait.

How is your work different than everything else out there?

I mainly use primary colors, and the texture is very thick; therefore, I believe that my work permits multitude of emotions and feelings when seen in person.

When is a piece finished for you?

In comparison to the other artists’ works, there is a lot of empty space in my work. There are many occasions when sketch marks are left in the final image. Everytime I work, I must think hard about how to start the work or when to finish it. I cannot know the exact timing.

What’s different about your current body of work?

Actually, my earlier works were more diverse. Nowadays, I do primarily thick impasto painting in my work. As of now, I am planning to combine realistic imagery into my work.

What would you like collectors and curators to know about your work?

When I have exhibitions, there are occasionally people who want to touch the paint, perhaps due to the thick paint. I understand them because I want to touch my paintings too, but I wish they would refrain from doing so.

“[21p04] untitled”, oil on canvas 16 x 13 in | 41×32 cm, 2021

Tell us about a few of your career highlights or moments that have greatly affected your career?

My first exhibition in New York City was a very happy start for me. It was an experience that made me feel good, and there wouldn’t be any other like it since.

What’s coming up for you?

Although recently I’ve been painting abstract images with thick paint, in the future I want to use realistic modes of expression as well.

What advice would you give to an artist just starting out today?

If you really enjoy the process of making art and cannot know that the time is passing while you are creating things, you should continue as an artist. If not, it might be good to find another job, or make art as a hobby instead.

Who are some of your favorite under appreciated artists that you don’t think get enough attention?

I think the artists whom I really like have either passed away or have good exposure already.

“[21p18] untitled”, oil on canvas, 76 x 44 in | 194 x 113 cm, 2021

To learn more about Shin and his work, please visit