Show Preview | Jonathan Ahn

Santa Barbara, CA
Waterhouse Gallery, June 6-22

Jonathan Ahn, Geisha in the Afternoon, oil, 36 x 24.

Jonathan Ahn, Geisha in the Afternoon, oil, 36 x 24.

This story was featured in the May 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art May 2015 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!

This month Waterhouse Gallery presents a show of 15 new paintings by Jonathan Ahn. The show opens with a reception for the artist from 5 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 6. The talented Ahn is a master of mood and light, whether he is depicting the streets of San Francisco or a trio of teenagers perusing a Renoir painting. Gallery co-owner Diane Waterhouse is enthusiastic about the presentation and describes Ahn’s work as “eloquent, intimate, and conveying a feeling of enchantment to the viewer.”

Ahn, who was born in Seoul, South Korea, in 1977, now calls San Francisco home. Indeed, many of his evocative street scenes depict a slice of urban life in the City by the Bay. He describes his adopted hometown as a place that offers him visually intriguing views at every turn. For Ahn, painting cityscapes of locales ranging from Paris to Kyoto is exciting because of the hustle and bustle, energy, human interaction, and drama that unfold on the streets every night and day. In his new works—paintings that evoke a certain romanticism stylistically—Ahn focuses on solitary figures or pairs of figures against the backdrops of cities around the world.

The artist is also known for his detailed images of Asian women wearing elegant, embroidered silk kimonos. These works are often more realistic than Ahn’s ethereal cityscapes. But in both his figurative paintings and street scenes, the artist successfully portrays atmosphere and always with a subtle touch. His haunting urban nocturnes featuring rainy weather, slick streets, and figures finding shelter under umbrellas are particularly affecting. For inspiration on conveying the full depth of human emotions, Ahn looks to an artist whom he considers a master: American painter Andrew Wyeth. Ahn cites Wyeth’s well-known painting CHRISTINA’S WORLD in particular as a work that wonderfully communicates emotions—forlorn, romantic, and tragic. Although Ahn has won a number of awards, including one from the prestigious Portrait Society of America, the most meaningful one, he says, is always the next one. 
—Bonnie Gangelhoff

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Featured in the May 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
Southwest Art May 2015 print issue or digital download Or subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss a story!