(KIM SOU, B. 1919)
signed 'Kim Sou' in English (lower right)
oil on canvas
129.6 x 161.6 cm. (51 x 63 5/8 in.)
Painted in the 1970s

If you wish to view the condition report of this lot, please sign in to your account.

Sign in
View condition report

Lot Essay

Born in 1919, Kim Heung Sou received his BFA in Oil Painting from the Tokyo University of the Arts in 1944, and furthered his study at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere, France, in 1958. The early artwork of Kim was executed in a realistic style - a style which was soon thwarted by the savage Korean War, the brutality of which spurred him on to explore other creative forms. As the war ended in 1955, Kim set off for Paris. Exposed to the international contemporary art scene, the artist sought avidly for freshened expression of his art. For all these undertakings Kim succeeded in 1967 in putting together the "Harmonism", a revolutionary idea on aesthetics, during his residence in the United States. Kim's Harmonism synthesizes the two polar yet interconnected aesthetic narratives, abstraction and figuration, on the basis of the Eastern complementary opposites of Yin and Yang. Since then Harmonism prevails over his artwork, through which his unique artistic style, as well as his unassailable position in the contemporary Korean art world is firmly established.

The distinct Eastern concept of Yin and Yang describes what the ancient Chinese saw within the greater whole of the natural world. The relationship between different natural forces and their regularity were regarded, spontaneously, as being both oppositional and congruent. It was the philosophical reflection on such natural phenomenon as the heaven and earth, days and nights, summers and winters and males and females that the concept of Yin and Yang was induced. Ancient scholars distinguished everything in their two poles of existence; hence every entity in the universe bears both the Yin and Yang aspects, which interact, through complementing and constraining each other, to maintain a dynamic equilibrium. Kim Heung Sou contends that art, like nature, manifests the balance of Yin-Yang. While Yin represents the invisible, unutterable motifs of abstraction, Yang embodies the visible, palpable figurative world. They are the polar opposites of artistic expression within the greater, single unit of art. The state of perfection relies upon the interaction and integration of these two elements. In his Untitled (Lot 1705), the heavy layering of vibrant colour pigments brightens the canvas with bold red. Black brushes and colour blocks intertwine with the blood-red draperies - as if those ancient symbols that leap across the prehistoric cave walls against flickering flashes of fire - to unfold a primeval vigor, inviting the viewers to unveil the mystery of time. Sharp lines, which resemble seal inscriptions, scatter all over the canvas; the abstract distribution, at once structured and arbitrary, is entangled with the figure of a buxom female body to array the force of Yin and Yang. Here they hinge on each other, finding themselves within each other, and the drift and union of Yin and Yang integrate into a piece of work balanced and harmonious, both visually and conceptually.

More from Asian Contemporary Art (Day Sale)

View All
View All