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Untitled 77-8-12

Untitled 77-8-12
signed, titled and dated in Korean; signed again 'CHUNG SANG HWA' (on the reverse)
acrylic on canvas
162.2 x 130.3 cm. (63 7⁄8 x 51 1⁄4 in.)
Painted in 1977
Hyundai Gallery, Seoul
Private Collection, Seoul
K Auction, 4 October 2015, lot 23
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

Brought to you by

Jacky Ho (何善衡)
Jacky Ho (何善衡) Senior Vice President, Deputy Head of Department

Lot Essay

Magnificent monochrome painting Chung Sang-Hwa, who is one of the most inspiring leaders of the Dansaekhwa movement, which dominated the local art scene in Korea throughout the 1970s and 1980s, will be featured in the evening sale. The movement has been receiving an increased attention from the global art world in recent years with the recognition that the works are philosophically profound, visually beautiful, and conceptually unique. Following the legacy of Korean abstract pioneers such as Kim Whan-Ki and Rhee Seundja, whose works are also featured in this sale, Untitled 77-8-12 aims to become one with nature, returning to nature through creating meditative monochrome planes.

Untitled 77-8-12 epitomizes Chung’s own method of ‘rip’ and ‘fill,’ which has been developed since the early 1970s, creating numerous grids with horizontal, diagonal and vertical lines, adding depth on the flat surface of the canvas. Chung first spreads the mixture of kaolin clay, water and glue on the entire canvas evenly and waits until the thick paint is completely dried. Then he removes the canvas from the wooden stretcher and draws grids of horizontal and vertical lines on the reverse of the canvas. After the procedure, Chung carefully folds it along his drawing lines and rips off the paint from the chosen grids. The bare grids taken off the paint are then filled with multiple layers of acrylic paint. Chung repeats the actions of ‘rip’ and ‘fill’ until he finds a perfect harmony of reduction and addition.

Untitled 77-8-12 painted in 1977 is a masterpiece, which proves how Chung successfully achieved infinite temporality and universality through this meditative repetition. The mastery of his sophisticated technique unique to Chung embodies a mind discipline required in the repetitive actions of the painstakingly time consuming process. The repetition itself is one of the primary elements that make his canvas to be an infinite space beyond a mere formal geometric picture, encouraging the viewer to sink into deep meditation. Lóránd Hegyi, one of the foremost European curators and art historians once commented on Chung’s art, “The closer the viewer’s interest in the visual details of the painting’s sensual surface, in the painter’s subtle interventions, and in the pictorial and physical methods he uses to structure his work, the closer they come to another meditative and emotional domain of the artistic process, in other words, poetry, the genuinely poetic strategy of the artwork.” Chung states “The final result is not the target of my work but to present the process of how it is done.” In this way, the process itself becomes the meaning of the work echoing the tradition of the Asian literati, who emphasized spiritual cleansing and mind discipline in the process of their work.

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