Mason Mangung Kang, Over The Hill

Interview with Artist Mason Mansung Kang

With great pleasure I  present this interview with artist Mason Mansung Kang who won the Featured Artist Award in the Manhattan Arts International “New Beginnings” exhibition  which I had the pleasure to curate. Mason Mansung Kang’s art combines artistic prowess,  versatility and a positive vision.

Furthermore, the artist represents “New Beginnings” by embodying the  passion and determination of the human spirit to pursue one’s dreams. The artist, who was born in Korea and lives in California, became a full-time artist after he retired. He has achieved tremendous strides in his career and creatity in only two years.

Mason Mansung Kang, Sunset at Bolinas Lagoon, oil on canvas, 48" x 36".
Mason Mansung Kang, Sunset at Bolinas Lagoon, oil on canvas, 48″ x 36″.

Mason Mansung Kang’s portfolio encompasses superb paintings of landscapes from Korea, California and Europe, as well as cityscapes, still life and figures. In addition to his paintings, his drawings also reflect a keen observation to detail, form and values.

When submitting his entries to “New Beginnings” he wrote: “The visual changes of the natural world, with unending colors and values that exist in light and shadow over each season and over time, create variations of moods and emotions that always affects my mind. I struggle to observe these subtle colors, but also enhance the colors that are usually not noticed by untrained eyes. To share this beauty is the goal of my efforts.”

Mason Mansung Kang, Cable Car, oil on canvas, 24" x 36".
Mason Mansung Kang, Cable Car, oil on canvas, 24″ x 36″.


Although born with an innate talent, the artist only began to pursue his passion for painting full-time after retirement. He studied at the Graduate School of the Academy of Art University, San Francisco, and he obtained his MFA in Painting in 2016. Since 2015 his artwork has won 17 awards from various organizations throughout the U.S. and Korea. He is currently represented by the Bill Hester Fine Arts gallery in Santa Fe, NM.

I would like to recommend people never to hesitate to put anything you want to do into action realizing that we still have much longer time in our lives than expected or estimated before. Once you tried, you would realize again that time flies and the new world appears so close to your eyes.
~ Mason Mansung Kang
Mason Mansung Kang, On the Hill, California, oil on canvas, 30" x 40".
Mason Mansung Kang, On the Hill, California, oil on canvas, 30″ x 40″.

RP: What do you try to achieve with your paintings that you would like people to experience when viewing your art?

MMK: In short, I would like to express this world more beautifully than it looks, not than it is as it is actually, and truly, a lot more beautiful than it looks. I would be very happy if the viewers of my paintings can feel the same sublime sense of warmth, happiness and contentment.

RP: Do you paint en plein air or from photographs and sketches?

MMK: I definitely prefer plein air painting to the studio-only-work, as the beauty of a scene is not only the objects themselves but also the combination of the moods and the feelings I had at the sites. Due to a shortage of opportunities and the time allowed, I have mostly painted in the studio from photos that I took myself. But I’m seeking the opportunity to paint en plein air as much as possible.

Mason Mansung Kang, Busy City, oil on canvas, 24" x 18".
Mason Mansung Kang, Busy City, oil on canvas, 24″ x 18″.

RP: What personal beliefs do you have that influence the kind of paintings you create?

MMK: I, as a Christian, thank God for the creation of this beautiful world and for allowing us to be able to feel, see, touch, and even own these ‘Beauties’ of the world. I think this ‘Beauty’ originally comes from various mysterious sources of ‘light’ by which we all can see anything exists in the world. The dramatic combination of light and shadows always enraptures me and lures me to paint it on the canvas.

RP: You are so prolific and achieve excellence in many different subjects – from  landscapes, seascapes and citycscapes, to figures and still life. What series of paintings are you current working on?

MMK: I’m mostly focusing on the landscape at the moment, which actually includes some combination of other areas like cityscape or figures too because what I love is actually the dramatic balance of light and shadows regardless what kind of objects they are.

Mason Mansung Kang, Morning Light at Namwon, oil on Canvas, 18"x 24".
Mason Mansung Kang, Morning Light at Namwon, oil on Canvas, 18″x 24″.

RP: It is admirable that you returned to school to earn a degree after your retirement. What advice would you like to offer people who may be timid about following their passion later in life?

MMK: I think I’m very much lucky that God gave me such a talent and even such a passion to actually carry it out. Many of my colleagues envy me for that. But I would like to recommend people never to hesitate to put anything you want to do into action realizing that we still have much longer time in our lives than expected or estimated before. Once you tried, you would realize again that time flies and the new world appears so close to your eyes.

RP: What art career goals do you have for 2017?

MMK: I will keep painting and want to expose myself more as I’m now just a baby in the art world. I hope to get more chances to win in various famous international competitions in 2017. If there are some paintings that I can sell at good prices, that will be additional bonus I would welcome.

Mason Mansung Kang, On The Way to Vienna, oil on canvas, 30" x 36".
Mason Mansung Kang, On The Way to Vienna, oil on canvas, 30″ x 36″.

RP: When is your next exhibition?

MMK: Many people in Korea want me to have it here in my home town. I plan to do it sometime in October 2017 in Korea. I need such time to prepare the new paintings as I have consigned most of my recent paintings to the Bill Hester Gallery in Santa Fe, NM before I returned home last September, 2016.

RP: How do you define “success” as an artist?

MMK: Basically they shall have no financial difficulties to continue to create their art works. And I think the real success as an artist is to obtain the same level of respect and consensus intended by the artist from as wide an audience as possible.

Mason Mansung Kang, Companions, oil on canvas, 24" x 36".
Mason Mansung Kang, Companions, oil on canvas, 24″ x 36″.

RP: What advice would you like to offer younger artists who are on their way to becoming professional full-time artists?

MMK: This is the very serious question for me and I am a bit gloomy to think that it looks like there are not enough opportunities for youngsters to be successful as professional artists in their future.

But I even have recognized that there are still many ways, routes, and systems which assist and support young artists to be successful. Manhattan Arts International is one of the good examples for this, I‘m sure. Therefore, I can definitely say that anyone who pursues anything with more passion will surely be able to obtain the better position in this very much competitive world. I recommend they never give up!

Visit Mason Mansun Kang’s website www.masonmansungkang.com/

Join Mason Mansun Kang on Social Media
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mason.kang
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mason-mansung-kang-11b62a45

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