Contemporary Realism Artist to Watch: Kohshin Finley

There is a lot of superb contemporary realism being made these days; this article by Allison Malafronte shines light on a gifted individual.

Contemporary realism figurative art - Kohshin Finley (b. 1989), "Essence and Jihaari," 2021, oil on canvas, 70 x 56 in., Jack Shainman Gallery, New York City
Kohshin Finley (b. 1989), “Essence and Jihaari,” 2021, oil on canvas, 70 x 56 in., Jack Shainman Gallery, New York City

Kohshin Finley (b. 1989) is a Los Angeles-based portrait painter and poet who has been exhibiting at blue-chip galleries, museums, and art fairs worldwide for years. A 2012 graduate of L.A.’s Otis College of Art and Design, he began receiving recognition almost immediately for his piercing black-and-white portraiture and still lifes, appearing in publications like The Los Angeles Times and Hyperallergic and making such hot lists as The Top 100 Figurative Painters Working Right Now.

Beyond the well-deserved praise stands Finley’s imagery itself, which is as down-to-earth and close-to-home as art comes. He chooses to paint family, friends, and acquaintances from his community in the greater Los Angeles area, shining a light on their bonds and relationships that have withstood the harsh winds of life and change.

“It was important for me to explore these partnerships of beauty in the midst of the historic years we’ve been living in,” Finley shares. “To reflect and immortalize my friends in these large-scale artworks is paramount to my practice as a way to document what life can, and does, look like in 2021. At their core, these works are meant to show that joy and love can be showcased in a bright and positive way through art.”

Calling Finley’s motivation for creating heartfelt and poignant is not just waxing poetic. As part of his painting process, the artist actually composes poetry after spending time with his sitters and interweaving his own story with theirs. Finley was somewhat predisposed to such artistic sensitivities, as he grew up surrounded by creativity: his mother, Blanca de la Isla, is a fashion designer and his father, Ron Finley, is both a fashion designer and a well-known urban gardening expert.

Connect with the artist at

This article on contemporary realism artist Kohshin Finley was originally published in Fine Art Connoisseur magazine.

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