Like two drops of waterthe very symbol of resemblance; this is where the diversity of the work of Kim Tschang-Yeul is found. As everyone knows, Kim is the artist who paints the water drop. It says everything about his art and at the same time nothing at all. Because, although for thirty years it has been the consistent image of his work, the real subject of his oeuvre is not water drops, but painting itself.
Daniel Abadie (Former Director of the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume)
Kim Tschang-Yeul's study in calligraphy during his childhood and innate affection toward art naturally led him to major in painting during his university years. After graduating from an art college in Seoul, Kim continued his study in art in New York during the 1960s, and then settled in Paris in 1970. During this Paris period, Kim developed his signature style and motif: the representation of the water drop. As he once explained, "I paint water drops because I want to dissolve everything inside them, and return to nothingness. Anger, anxiety, fear-I want them all to become emptiness," Kim represents water drops as a concept, not an image. It explains well the theoretical backdrop how Kim's painting was broadly accepted as Dansaekhwa, which means monochrome painting, despite obvious figures of water drops in his works. It is noteworthy to understand that the viewer perceive Kim's water drop as a concept and spirit beyond its physical existence.
As PA86006 featured here, epitomizes the other signature element of Kim's work, Chinese characters. Kim practiced drawing Chinese calligraphy since childhood. PA86006 from 1986 is a representative example that demonstrates his mature technique and an evolved style employing the ideograms. While all characters certainly have meanings, Kim employs them as much for symbolic and aesthetic reasons as for their meaning. With these ideograms upon which the water drops are displayed, the viewer is induced to feel the conflict and tension created from an encounter between letters as a means for memory and the other as a symbol of evanescence.