(Korean, B. 1954)
signed in Korean; dated '09.02' (side of aluminium); signed in Korean; dated '09.02' (lower right); inscribed in Korean (lower left)
oil on aluminium
244 x 122 cm. (96 2/3 x 48 1/8 in.)
Painted in 2009

Arario Gallery, Korea
Private Collection, Asia

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Felix Yip
Felix Yip

Lot Essay

Woman (Lot 2377) is a signature aluminum painting from the Korean artist Kang Hyung-Koo, who has built a reputation for his mesmerizing hyper realistic portraits. This charming portrait provides the viewer with a sensorial experience drawn from on a powerful yet enigmatic illusion balanced somewhere between Surrealism and Hyperrealism. As Kang stated, "I am often associated with the hyper-realists because of the techniques I employ in my work, but I am not a hyper-realist. In fact, unlike hyper-realist artists who tend to coldly study the surface of objects, I am very much inclined to investigate the inside of objects..."(Arario Gallery, Hyung Koo Kang, Seoul, Korea, 2007, p. 116). Kang pursues a complete mastery over the depiction of the inner world of humans through facial portraits. Woman proves the artist's statement, demonstrating the ways in which Kang's attention to external appearances and surface beauty manages instills his subjects with an aura that exceeds mere representation or imitation. Throughout his career, Kang always focuses special attention on the execution of his figures' eyes as he aspires for his audience to experience a silent - almost religious - communion with his subjects. The gaze that occurs between the audience and the portraits are deliberately created by the artist to intensify the experience of his paintings. The overpowering physical presence of his works nearly inverts the viewer's relationship with the image, instilling in him or her the feeling that they are the ones being being viewed.

Though flawlessly accurate in its depiction, the medium of aluminum bestows a quiet gravity as the level of reflection icon radiate transcendence and timelessness through the glossy surface of aluminum. Kang utilized the mirrored surface as an allegorical reflection of the illusionary against its utterly realistic depiction in his endeavor to resemble the subconscious and the conscious, dream and reality, as believes that Surrealism and Hyperrealism both deliver the same sensation by providing an illusion of reality and a sensorial misguidance through persuasive illustrations that simulate reality, which can both be the product of an improvisational automatism from the artist's psyche. Kang can realistically create fabrications that do not exist in the real world and, sometimes, as in Woman, conjuring the illusory image of celebrities as if concrete, larger than life, spiritually mesmerizing presences before the audience. As he has stated, he is not a hyper-realist painter, rather a magician with a magnificent power of representing realistic illusion, who can enchant the audience to believe what they are seeing is more real than reality itself.

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