(B. 1929)
Water Drops
signed 'T. Kim' in English; dated '75' (lower right)
oil on canvas
95 x 191 cm. (37 3/8 x 75 1/8 in.)
Painted in 1975
Acquired from the art dealer Mr George Marci in the 1980s in Switzerland by the mother of present owner, and thence by descent, family collection of the present owner

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Lot Essay

A sanctified nature, the vital power of water as life, medical virtues, fertility and saftey generously provides a spiritual cleansing for Kim Tschang Yeul; as he prolongs his state of consciousness in its quiet symbolism to examine and meditate his theoretical curiosity of the presence of the absence, he explores the monochromatic flatness of his canvas in a highly constructivist attitude by willfully undertaking the expressive potential of a blank space as an attribute to his meditative conception, emphasizing on purity through its non objective pictorial creation. Kim's oeuvre are collectively invites in its graceful and universal aesthetics of his predictable, faithfully executed water drops, and the raw, earthy monochromatic tone of his background. Detaching possibilities of subjectivity from the viewer, his works appeal to the functional normative art of Constructivism in the West, and yet blends an Eastern spiritualism by humbly adopting a contemplative and reflective approach that traces the principles of Zen Buddhism and Confucianism.

'I see repetition in terms of Buddhist prayer. You repeat and repeat until it blocks out all other thoughts, and you pass into an empty state. I have thought a great deal about my experiences during the war, and the water drops have become a requiem for the dead. For me, painting can be compared to an act of consolation towards the spirits of the dead, in the same way that one sprinkles water to protect the dead from evil spirits during a Buddhist purification ritual.'
-Kim Tschang Yeul

Such rigid adherence to the dictates of one visual motif is perhaps in his devotion to the conditions of being empty but full of Zen Buddhism in his means to heal his tormented soul from the war, yearning to find peace between past and present, to forgive and reflect, but not forget and instead to learn to foster it into wisdom. Kim's own artistic remedial was best captured in his 1970s works, where his mind seems to have isolated a precise way in which to extract the multifaceted exposures of water as an article and as a medium of philosophically probing expression.

Illustrative of a particular formula, the serially composed drops envelop the canvas in high impact, bouncing in tight and terse rhythm in Water drops (Lot 1609). Kim's adept balance of matter and image emit complicated effects as he attends every drop with firm meticulousness but seizes them in hectic density to provide a tactile and audible complement to his painting. Though dazzling in diligent perfectionism, a slight sense of anxiety prevails, but only to exemplify Kim's artistic intelligence as he inhabits a calmer symphony in Water drops (Lot 1610). Kim's tender abbreviated details against the naked void of the canvas draw attention to the minimal and essential convention of flatness of a monochrome painting. The intact drips are in enigmatic alignment grasping each sensation of absorption and evaporation, suggestive of the dry condition of the background, shrewdly indicating the supernatural yet organic power of his water droplets. Persistently exploring to grasp the ultimate integrity of water and its generous yet mythical attributes, its infinite definition serve as an apt channel for Kim to focus on the formal and meditative aspects of painting.

Kim's effective articulation of spatial complexity was further challenged in his later 1990s works, where he adopted an entirely unexpected yet exquisitely modern maneuver of pictorial contrast. The Chinese calligraphy complicates his aesthetic harmony, offering a highly technological and scientific characteristic of water by magnifying the lettered background. Though in atmospheric paradox, whether it be through bold inscriptions that emit an ambiguity of foreground and background, or through foremost dominance of water on the inscription, both Recurrence (Lot 1611) and Recurrence, PK95024 (Lot 1612) demonstrate his new found endeavor to conjure contradictory elements. They feverishly criticize the coexistence of nature and artificiality, decidedly hyper-realistic in executing such surrealism to precisely question the idea of false impression that is equivalent to the first glance of realistic depiction of water drops until the realization of the dissolvent resistant quality of it. Kim's exquisite balance of two poles and in between demonstrates his sharp conceptualism in existence of being and their relevance to its environment, but most certainly his passion and dedication that is evident in his philosophy and technical dexterity that further extends as his personal form of meditation.

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