• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2605

    Asian Contemporary Art (Day Sale)

    25 May 2008, Hong Kong

  • Lot 480


    Price Realised  


    (Born in 1968)
    Autumn's Rock
    watercolor on Korean paper
    149 x 128 cm. (58 1/2 x 50 1/4 in.)
    Painted in 2007

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    The immaculacy of his paintings reveals Choi Yeong Geol's sensitive and scrupulous inspection and sympathy reflecting the mixture of tradition and the contemporary, the academic standardization and the romanticized spirit. The sublimity experienced in nature is translated with religious connotations by the artist in his devoted painting. Despite such articulation, the artist strives to eliminate his subjectivity and loyally delivers an objective depiction of nature at its most serene and beautiful. Nature for the artist is not merely a still life object but through self purification and religious reverence are means of disciplining religious faith. Since nature is a mirror of the self and a world of meditation which gives life, restoring all things to their proper and original state, Choi's Christian belief is subtly integrated in his exquisite and enlightening process of painting landscapes.

    Much like the photography of Watkins of the Great West in the 1860s, in Autumn's Rock (Lot 480), we find Choi's determination to show the magnificence of nature. Standing tall and proud, the rock reflects the warm rays of the sun, it does not overshadow the rest of the landscape and instead allows that all parts of the riverbanks be showered in light. Classically composed with a foreground and background, Choi's works cannot help but strike a similarity to traditional painting, emphasized further by his technical training and delicate application of watercolours. The grainy texture of the paper lends itself to a comparison with the documentary photography style of the West in the 19th Century whose printing process was still in stages of experimentation. These grand sceneries are not imposing but summon the viewer to wander into the canvas, through the small path in Narrow Road (Lot 481) or upstream in Autumn's Rock. Captivated and in awe of the grandeur, the viewer helplessly surrenders to the beauty.

    Choi's masterful use of the calligraphy brush to paint tiny strokes conscientiously creates a sense of order and tranquility. However, the quiet nature of traditional oriental mannerism in Choi's paintings is neutralized with the contemporary scale of the panorama with its realistic representation. Particularly in Narrow Road the viewer cannot help but be captivated by the seemingly endless trees and their purple canopy. We are engulfed not only by the height of the trees but the vast field of lavender coloured blossoms; both features extend beyond the four corners of the canvas. Choi's oeuvres simultaneously accentuate these binary characteristics leaving the audience to indulge in the beauty and crispness of nature. With his linear perspective and realistic painting style, Choi is able to bring his ideal world of nature to its fullest realization.