(B. 1966)
Cityscape - An Alley
signed 'Ham Myung Su' in English; dated '10' (lower right); signed with artist's signature; titled and inscribed 'CityScape Oil on Canvas 145.5 cm x 112.1 cm' in English; titled in Korean; dated '2010' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
145.5 x 112 cm. (57 1/4 x 44 1/8 in.)
Painted in 2010

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Lot Essay

Ham Myung Su's intricate works formed with loosely gathered brushstrokes, constantly moving through the painting, perhaps to insinuate a nature and society that is in constant flux. He suavely suggests the fluctuation through his application of colour and engraving swirls prior to paint drying. He chooses to build tonal value by mingling and fusing raw paint colours in thin, diligently stacked brushstrokes to generate a shimmering sense of ripples of mixed colours. The intricate twining of lines further complicates his landscape by evoking a sense of stillness and motion as we look back and forth to view a pixel-like colour layer projected over the landscape.

Ham replaces tonal gradation of lightening and darkening to suggest shadow and depth by interweaving paint and colour to capture a snapshot of an alleyway. As he exploits fully the use of brushstrokes to control all other elements of painting, composition, subject matter and concept, his landscapes develop a sublime drama. His feathery swirls are painstakingly worked, indicative of Ham's ardent emphasis on painting technique as his aesthetic core and means of expression. "Breathing with the world, I believe that I can document and reproduce something well enough, but as I go along I realize and I face the reality of painting and its existence, this is why I came to paint nothing but strokes. I think that in painting, the strokes and the colour is its existence and its essence."

The complexity of the paint texture conjures a sensual and tender focus as the cityscape appears blurred and even shaky, where the lack of clarity and softness of the colours, composition and brushstroke stir an aura of nostalgia. The picture plane is tightened at sharp angles to conjure an enclosing alleyway of shops and banners, awakening the banal phenomena of the usually dark and grim alleyway. Ham knowingly utilizes paint to its maximum saturation and purity to an almost hallucinatory effect. He endeavours to exaggerate reality, constantly envisioning a world outside of his direct surroundings and contemplating the marginal aspects of everyday life.

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