Kavi Gupta presents Young-Il Ahn

Young-Il Ahn, Water CLSV 17, 2017. Oil on canvas, 50 x 44 inches.

Young-Il Ahn

July 14–August 25, 2018

Opening: July 14, 4–7pm

Kavi Gupta
835 W. Washington Blvd.
Chicago, IL



Kavi Gupta is pleased to present a monographic exhibition of new paintings by Young-Il Ahn.

Born in Gaeseong, Korea, in 1934, Ahn is renowned for his intricate, large-scale, meticulous paintings, which explore his relationship with beauty, nature, and music. His work is associated with Dansaekhwa, an aesthetic position specific to Korea, which expresses natural processes through a mostly monochromatic palette. As a Korean-born painter working in the US, Ahn is unique among Dansaekhwa artists.

This exhibition at Kavi Gupta’s Elizabeth Street gallery in Chicago marks a triumphant moment in the career of this vital artist. Ahn was recently honored with a large-scale solo exhibition at LACMA—the first time a Korean artist has received the honor. Titled Unexpected Light: Works by Young Il Ahn, it showcased his “Water” series, on which Ahn has been working for more than 30 years.

In addition to the LACMA show, Ahn’s work was also recently explored in depth in a 35-year retrospective at the Long Beach Museum of Art, titled Young-Il Ahn: When Sky Meets Water. These were both fitting celebrations of the accomplishments of a man who has, for the past five decades, called Southern California his home.

Yet, Chicago was actually the first American city to recognize the talents of this extraordinary artist. That recognition came nearly 60 years ago by way of the Hull House, an arts and culture organization dedicated to social equality and justice, which was founded on Chicago’s south side. The Hull House offered free art classes for many decades. Numerous working-class Chicago artists in the early and mid-20th century credited the Hull House with their education. It was in the Hull House Gallery that Young-Il Ahn had his first US solo exhibition in 1959.

Young-Il Ahn at Kavi Gupta brings this remarkable connection full circle, welcoming the artist back for the first time to the city where his American legacy began.

The paintings Ahn will premier at his solo exhibition at Kavi Gupta are the latest in his renowned “Water” series. They are the latest manifestations of his in-depth, painterly study of the qualities of the sea. The “Water” series exemplifies the distinctive method Ahn has developed, which mobilizes careful, methodical brush strokes, building up precise, impasto layers of vibrant, colorful paint. These new additions to this important body of work show an artist whose brilliance has not diminished with age, and who even now, at age 84, is at the height of his talent.

Says Ahn: “When I look out upon the ocean, I tremble as if I am holding part of the universe in my hand. This is why, for the past thirty years I have ceaselessly tried, through the ‘Water’ series, to put that ‘tremble’ onto my canvasses.”

It is our honor to be able to premier these new expressions of this living master’s relationship with the forces of the universe in Chicago.

For more information on Young-Il Ahn at Kavi Gupta, contact: info@kavigupta.com

Kavi Gupta presents Young-Il Ahn

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