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    Sale 2618

    Asian Contemporary Art (Evening Sale)

    30 November 2008, Hong Kong

  • Lot 519


    Price Realised  


    (Born in 1965)
    Gogh VS Gogh
    oil on canvas
    228 x 181.5 cm. (89 3/4 x 71 1/2 in.)
    Painted in 2007

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    Deeply engaged in materialistic culture, Kim formed an aesthetic formula of constructing a diagrammatic format with multiple microscopic portraits, harmonized with coy control of tonal gradient to emit a larger image of a final portrait. When perceived under the light of contemporary discourse, his portraitures arise as an acute critique, aimed at defining the result of globalization and reproduction; moreover as a deep contemplation and examination on the theory of icon, dissecting its emblem, or even dissecting its semiotic concept. Addressing analogy to be of great importance in comprehending the very notion of icon, thus where icons become a pictorial analogy, Kim knowingly consents to this belief in his painterly creation of multi layered icons that are in heavy relevance to each other, crafting a visual idiom for the audience to decipher.

    The field of pixels merges to form a discernible picture with its electronic signals that are figuratively analogous to Kim's brushstroke, in which the fine-tuned gradient summons a singular image. Both Gogh VS Gogh (Lot 519) and Monroe VS Kennedy (Lot 861) are executed in monotonic patches of smooth grayscale, exercising the spectator's eye to synchronize between concentration and convergence. As seeing is a process of metamorphosis rather than an automatic system of visual identification, Kim affirms that we never see only one image at a time by shrewdly applying this complex notion to his technical process of microscopic painterly pixilation. Through the lyrical permutations of pixel-images, he challenges in which people and objects can attain new definition. Training the eye to discard the mentally stored identification of an image by simultaneously inserting relevant yet different microscopic imagery, he teases the audiences' intuitive observation. He guides the eye through stereopsis, a visual blending of two faintly different images in stereoscopic depth and solidity, providing a new metamorphic aesthetic vocabulary to the mundanely seen image.

    However mundane the 'iconic' images may be, Kim's astounding artistic capacity alters the audience's expected humdrum perceptual habit, providing a fresh impulse by actually impersonating the personality of the subject he portrays, thus reviving the prosaic into an engaging activity of decoding a binary cipher. His insistent drive to balance the unstable mood of Van Gogh onto his canvas symbolize his attempt in synthesizing the two poles of Van Gogh's personality, taming it on to his canvas by decoding the missing link to articulate his best assumed understanding of Van Gogh's overall character. The mental instability of Van Gogh is most definitely presented at its highest peak in this oeuvre. The gradient of its various miniature portraits projects an overall miraculous illusion of a living Van Gogh with multiple faces, hence, a face full of various expressions. Kim brilliantly maneuvers this modification to intensify the visual agitation with intricate and varied picture waves to confuse the perception, deliberately making it difficult to assimilate an overall image which in his other oeuvres appears dominantly clear and controlled. With scrutiny, the appreciation for this methodology is esteemed with the realization that this visual angst mirrors Van Gogh's torment and anguish; moreover, even emulating the paroxysmal eyes of Van Gogh in viewing the world with fervent staccato pixilation.

    Kim does not merely channel the personality of Van Gogh, but also adopts his aesthetic discipline, consciously injecting it to the orientation of his execution. Van Gogh's convulsive brushstroke that is eloquently arrested on his canvas as separate formative lines is reinterpreted into Kim's own version with his individualistic miniscule portraitures that operate as separate autonomous brushstrokes. These texturally distinctive 'brushstrokes' of both the artists convey a moving sensation, where light illuminates within the waves of these brush strokes, bestowing an impression of a swift succession of images like motion pictures. The changes in tempo and virtual movements depend on various standpoints. Kim's work expresses a fluent visual polarization with various lighting to his monochrome painting, exhibiting a shift in imagery of the large portrait. Utilizing Op art's mind game of provoking the eye, the painting becomes darker, larger, narrower, changing its overall ambiance and shape as the viewers move back and forth. This temperamental image is perhaps symbolic of Van Gogh's mood swing, solemn from one angle, or maybe dark, or even vulnerably wounded from another. The final companion to Kim and Van Gogh's analogy is established by the belief that they share. Van Gogh's negation in painting faithful reproduction of the exterior of the subject was released with explosive creativity of his heavily agitated strokes and overtly-intensified colors. Like so, Kim attempts to portray the principle function of art in elevating his social consciousness between reality and imagination by assuming a painting technique that opposes a resemblance to conventional, traditional technique of faithful depiction of physical appearances. Kim's painting reads Van Gogh's rebellion against the mere reproduction of still life, as he also, strives to bring attention the fatal consequence that has been brought upon by contemporary reproduction of still life, hence celebrities. Protesting against the causes of digital production of modern visual culture and the society's obsession for icons and symbols, Kim mimics a composition of a celebrity poster to possibly declare that this exact obsession and glorification is precisely what suffocated these individuals to death.

    Both Marilyn Monore and John F. Kennedy are strangled within the pressured grid, generating an impression of media frenzy, where construction of their identity has been controlled and manipulated, furthermore consumed by society. The role of the multiple microscopic portraits in Monroe VS Kennedy is evident, reading a sequence of speculation between the two icons, Marilyn Monroe and John. F. Kennedy. The serially determined composition becomes a poignant indication in this oeuvre, akin to Gogh VS Gogh as the aesthetic fluidity is undermined in comparison to his predictably organized earlier work of Marilyn Monroe (Lot 862). The earlier work conveys a closer similarity to graphic pixels, as their tightly repetitive modernist grid immediately offer computer graphic distortion. Monroe is flatter and smoother in form than Van Gogh and Kennedy, perhaps in Kim's premeditated decision in describing the smooth, charismatic allure of Monroe. In contrary, Kennedy is intensely described in three dimensional illusions, obviously due to the varying miniscule pixels that breed depth and texture, but also in Kim's intuitive control in lighting that best bring about Kennedy's clean-cut, smart demeanor. Like so, Kim's suave riddle of contradiction between the physical fact and the psychological effect is what makes his painting variably unique to everyone's perceptual experience also drawing critical attention to the construction of images.

    Kim serves a great breadth of variation on a single motif by presenting flexibility in the spectator's vision to look for the object, look among the objects or look at an object; in chorus, managing to enlighten the audience that object multiplies and changes under our very eyes. He demonstrates that illusion of sight has its interesting values by rejecting to confine vision as something singularly related to the mechanism of the eye, uttering that there are narratives that we cannot discern physiologically and psychologically.