• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2605

    Asian Contemporary Art (Day Sale)

    25 May 2008, Hong Kong

  • Lot 687

    BYEN UNG-PIL

    Price Realised  

    BYEN UNG-PIL
    (BORN IN 1970)
    SELF PORTRAIT
    TWO OIL ON CANVAS
    227 X 181.5 CM. (89 3/8 X 71 1/2 IN.) X 2 PIECES (2)


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    THE SELF-PORTRAIT OF BYEN UNG-PIL, UNIQUELY OBSTINATE IN COMPOSITION AND APPLIED IN ORDERLY HORIZONTAL BRUSH STROKES IS POSSIBLY IN PREMEDITATED DETERMINATION OF THE ARTIST TO RHETORICALLY APPOINT HIS PAINTINGS AS A FORM OF SELF-ABSORPTION. THE CONTEMPORARY SOCIETY'S VANITY WITH ITS OBSESSION OF CAPTURING ITSELF WITH DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY ALLOWS PEOPLE TO EFFICIENTLY REVIEW THEIR FACE, CREATING NEW MODERN PHENOMENA OF NARCISSISM.


    THE ARTIST PROVIDES A SENSE OF EXAGGERATION OF THE SCALE WITH THE ENLARGEMENT OF THE TIGHT DETAIL OF PHYSIOGNOMY INSINUATED BY THE THICK LINEAR DILIGENCE IN BRUSH STROKE THAT EVOKES AN IMPRESSION OF AN OVERTLY MAGNIFIED PIXEL. THIS EXPLOITATION OF MAGNIFICATION IS DECIDEDLY INDICATIVE OF THE ZOOMING UP OF DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY, SUGGESTING THEIR OBSESSION OVER SELF-REFLECTION WITH EXTREME DETAIL ORIENTATED FUSS. REFUSING TO FURTHER PIXELIZE AND DISTORT HIS PORTRAIT, BYEN IMPERSONATES NARCISSUS, THE SELF-ADMIRER OF GREEK MYTHOLOGY. NARCISSUS FELL IN LOVE WITH HIMSELF, ADMIRING HIMSELF OF HIS OWN REFLECTION ON WATER, WHICH EVENTUALLY LEAD HIM TO DEATH WITH THIRST AS A CONSEQUENCE OF HIS RELUCTANCE TO REACH OUT FOR A DRINK IN FEAR OF SHATTERING A RIPPLED IMAGE OF HIM SELF. HOWEVER, BYEN'S GAZE IS DISTINCTLY DIFFERENT FROM THE SELF-ADMIRATION OF NARCISSUS. THE DEEP DARK POOL OF HIS EYES IS GLISTENED IN TRANQUIL CURIOSITY OF HIS EXISTENCE, SEEKING TO FIND A CONCRETE REALNESS, RESIDING IN THE PAUSE BETWEEN IDENTITY AND EXISTENCE OF THE BODY AND SELF.


    TO FURTHERMORE QUESTION AND GRASP IT'S LIMINAL GAP, BYEN PAINTS A SEEMINGLY STARK NAKED, HAIRLESS PORTRAIT OF HIMSELF, WHICH TOGETHER WITH GRANDNESS IN SCALE PROVOKE A SURPLUS OF OFF-PUTTING INTIMACY TO THE VIEWER. HIS APTITUDE IN TRIGGERING SUCH OVERWHELMING RESPONSE IS GRACIOUSLY DUE TO HIS TECHNICAL EXECUTION THAT DEPICTS THE UTMOST MALLEABLE ELASTICITY OF THE SKIN. THE EXTREME TACTILE SENSATION INCONSPICUOUSLY DAUNTS THE SPECTATORS WITH FORCED CLOSENESS. IN PARTICULAR WITH THESE TWO COLOURED PORTRAITS IN CONJUNCTION TO ONE ANOTHER WITH BYEN'S WATCHFUL COMPOSURE, EMPHASIZED WITH HIS HAND GESTURE, DOUBLES THE INQUISITIVE INTIMIDATION OF THE VIEWER. THEY FIND THEMSELVES DRAWN AND REPELLED SIMULTANEOUSLY TO BYEN'S FASCINATION OF HIMSELF AND HIS BODY, WHEREIN HE POIGNANTLY CRITICIZES THE HEDONISTIC VANITY OF CURRENT SOCIETY IN THEIR UNNECESSARY ADORNMENT AND EGOTISM AS HE COMFORTABLY PLAYS WITH HIS SKIN AND BODY IN WITTY ODDITY.