Kang Seok Ho (1971-2021)'s works concentrate on texture and color, representing his unique experiments in “distancing from the subject and getting closer to the surface of the canvas.” Despite being categorically aligned with figurative painting, his works did not leave much room for narrative. His method of tapping the brush in thin paint and building up layers strives toward abstraction, the act of making and thinking becoming a singular act.

In many of his works, Kang excluded narrative features such as a person’s face and the surrounding background, and focused rather on formal details such as color, pattern, texture, and wrinkles of fabric as they move along the curves of the body, creating a unique visual language. The back of a woman with long curly hair is reminiscent of a waterfall in a valley, or the focus on depicting color and texture of fabric is like a “dry bamboo leaf.” All of this reveals Kang’s attitude that closely mimics the philosophy of traditional Asian landscape painters. Kang Seok Ho’s representative painting series are all an attempt to experiment with and discover a new approach to the unique structure and confines of the genre of painting. 

Operating also as a curator, Kang has organized several exhibitions interrogating if a painterly language distinctive to Korean painters exist. Exhibitions he curated include “Korean Painting: About Photography” (2011) and “Korean Painting: About Manners” (2012). In addition, Kang Seok Ho often used his own writing as introductory text for his own solo and curated exhibitions. Since Kang Seok Ho’s attitude towards the everyday is inextricably linked to the aesthetic of his paintings, his writings serve as an important foundation for understanding his inner world. 

Kang Seok Ho received his Bachelors of Fine Art in sculpture at Seoul National University, then left for Germany to study with Jan Dibbets (b. 1941) at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, where he received his Masters of Fine Art in painting. After winning the UBS Art Award in Basel, Switzerland in 2000, he returned to Korea and won the Seoknam Art Prize (Seoul, Korea) in 2004, and he was the selected artist for "2008 Young Korean Artist: I AM AN ARTIST" by the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. From 2003 to 2020, he held 16 solo exhibitions at Insa Art Space, Kumho Museum of Art, and Mimesis Art Museum. Beyond his artistic practice, he was also a furniture collector and a curator. In 2008, he organized a number of exhibitions, including “Utopia, From Ideal to Reality” at the Kumho Museum of Art and “Those who see this also think of it” at Art Space 3. Not separating his daily life and art, he led meetings to interact with fellow artists on the subjects of painting, books, music, hiking, and fishing. He taught as a professor at Seoul National University of Science and Technology from 2018 to 2021, and his first retrospective, “seok ho kang: Three Minute Delight” (2022-2023) was held at the Seoul Museum of Art in the first year after his untimely death in 2021.

  • Kang Seok Ho, Untitled, 2012
    Kang Seok Ho
    Untitled, 2012
    Oil on canvas
    21 3/8 x 20 1/8 in
    54 x 51 cm
  • Kang Seok Ho, Untitled, 2019
    Kang Seok Ho
    Untitled, 2019
    Oil on canvas
    40 5/8 x 38 1/4 in
    103 x 97 cm