This painting belongs to Young-Il Ahn's Water Series. For more than 30 years, Ahn has been attempting to capture the sea’s illusive, shimmering color and light in his paintings. The series grew out of a formative experience Ahn had in 1983, when he was lost at sea aboard a small fishing boat off the coast of Santa Monica. For a time, he was caught in fog so dense that he could not even see his own hands. When the fog cleared, sunlight illuminated the surface of the ocean surrounding Ahn for miles in every direction, leaving him with an indelible visual and emotional impression, which he has strived for decades to express in his Water paintings. In 2017, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) acquired part of this series and presented 10 of the works in the exhibition Unexpected Light: Works by Young Il Ahn, the first solo exhibition of a Korean American artist at LACMA.
Artist Background: Born in Gaeseong, Korea, in 1934, Young-Il Ahn earned his BFA from Seoul National University in 1958, and relocated to California in 1966. He is renowned for making intricate, large-scale paintings that explore his relationship with beauty, nature and music. His work is frequently associated with Dansaekhwa, an aesthetic position specific to Korea, which expresses natural processes through a mostly monochromatic palette. Though, as a Korean-born painter living and working in the U.S., Ahn is unique among Dansaekhwa artists. Recent exhibitions include the retrospective Young-Il Ahn, at Kavi Gupta gallery, Chicago, Illinois; Young-Il Ahn: When Sky Meets Water, at Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, California; Unexpected Light: Works by Young-Il Ahn, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California; and A Memoir of Water, Solo exhibition, Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, California.