The human form has always been a central theme of art. As the thinking animal it seems only natural to recreate the image of the self. Whether out of narcissism or the fear of death, the portrait provides reference to not only the human but the person. In the context of anonymity, (portraits typically meant to portray not only a particular person but that person’s persona), the standard format conveys as much feeling giving the self extension beyond its actual experience. But the extension is not the one that would be associated to history, as expected in portraiture. Kwangho Shin from Seoul, South Korea, uses portraiture to extend the persona beyond events, beyond the self, beyond signification almost entirely. Shin remarks that he uses the individual subject to attain a sense of people more than the person. Anonymity then becomes an essential function if only a single subject is portrayed, and Shin doesn’t stop there with the removal from the self. Deconstruction of the central theme of the portrait is another step Shin applies; the mode of post-faciality obliterating the attraction centers to dense globs and heavy streaks of paint barely indicating the presence of orifices and facial features. The effect is not so resonate on eradicating the persona as much as the individual in Shin’s attempt to portray a people. Ambiguity of facial recognition is supplemented by vibrant formlessness, detaching the viewer from the leash of the facial interaction and letting them drift without having to place a semantic or identification of any type. Still, Shin remains fixed on the image of the person, even in lieu post-faciality; each painting does not fail to signify that in fact it is a singular head. But with a humanistic gesture Shin eases the boundaries between self-absorption and the societal eclipse of the individual.
-Howard Brad Halverson