University of Delaware
Hong Gyu Shin

Student, traveler, collector

UD's Hong Gyu Shin forges path as student, traveler, collector


3:26 p.m., Dec. 5, 2013--Members of the University of Delaware campus community may have heard of Hong Gyu Shin from the exhibition “From Samurai to Soldier: Japanese Prints of War” which has been on view through the fall semester in the Old College Gallery, but Shin is much more than a collector of Japanese woodblock prints. He is a student of art conservation, an international traveler, and the director of an art gallery.

Shin has interned in objects conservation at a variety of museums, had his collection exhibited in South Korea and the United States, taught art in a remote village in Tanzania, and given out free hugs in St. Petersburg, Russia.

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Born in South Korea, Shin became interested in art conservation at an early age, spurred on by his family’s love of art and visiting museums as well as his own urge to collect art. After attending high school in Long Island, N.Y., he applied to the study in UD’s Department of Art Conservation, where he is currently a senior art conservation major.

He completed internships with the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Philadelphia, and the Ulsan Institute of Cultural Properties in Ulsan, South Korea. What is more, he has taken art history courses at Harvard and in Russia, Italy, and England. 

In his latest endeavor, Shin has taken a leave of absence from school in order to open his own gallery, the Shin Gallery, in the contemporary art district of the Lower East Side in New York City. He exhibits the art of contemporary Korean and international artists, seeking to bring their work to the attention of the global art community.

The Shin Gallery has shown the work of artists such as Seung-pyo Hong, Jae-heon Lee, Hyon Gyon Park, Seung-hee Lee, Gunwoo Shin, Jong-wan Choo, and Esmeralda Kosmatopoulos. Shin said he wants his gallery to be “a bridge for Korean artists looking to branch out and became world renowned.”

Aside from his interest in contemporary Korean art, Shin is also drawn to Japanese art from the Edo and Meiji Periods. He maintains a collection of woodblock prints and paintings, known as ukiyo-e, literally “pictures of the floating world,” some of which is currently on display in the University exhibition “From Samurai to Soldier: Japanese Prints of War.”

These woodblock prints are not like the landscapes and portraits of beautiful women that usually come to mind when one thinks of Japanese prints, but they were just as well known in Japan. Of the 19 prints that Shin loaned to the University for this exhibition, some are musha-e, depicting warriors from the Edo Period (1603-1868) and the beginning of the Meiji Period (1868-1912), and some are sensō-e, illustrating more modern warriors of the later Meiji Period. 

These prints can be seen in the Old College Gallery until Sunday, Dec. 8.

Shin also collects Old Master and Post-Impressionist paintings, rare 16th century books, and photographs. He began collecting in 2006 and 2007, but became more serious about it in 2009. Shin said what he loves most about collecting is that “it gives me a very unique feeling.”

Article by Rebecca Selig

Photos by Evan Krape

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