(Korean, B. 1954)
signed in Korean; dated '12.05' (lower left)
oil on canvas
194.2 x 259.1 cm. (76 3/8 x 101 7/8 in.)
Painted in 2012

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Eric Chang
Eric Chang

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Lot Essay

Kang Hyung Koo is one of the most internationally sought after Korean artists and is famous for his mesmerizing hyperrealistic portraits, which provide the viewer with a sensorial experience based on an enigmatic illusion balanced somewhere between Surrealism and Hyperrealism. Kang's technical virtuosity in assimilating emotional, political, social and cultural themes in singular visual motif of portraiture is further intensified by a balance between pragmatic adjustment of photographic composition and expressionistic painting technique and medium, allowing space for his celebrities from the past to revive their spirits. In the recent painting Beethoven (Lot 449), Kang introduces a mature caricature style as another form of exaggeration that adds to the magnitude of impact of the painting. The portrait is a primary form of exaggeration to Kang. Caricature in itself effectively defined as 'loaded portrait,' and Kang pertains to this idea of overtly truthful and scientifically inspected depiction of his protagonists with his meticulously detailed depiction of skin.

Beethoven is one of the best examples from Kang's caricature portraits which have been developed from his early career. Kang intentionally employs caricature technique as a challenge against a conventional conception of fine art. As Kang stated, "The word 'caricature' seems to imply a kind of trivial approach to the act of drawing. It is perhaps time to consider a new word that might properly encapsulate the infinite potential of this drawing technique." (Arario Gallery, Hyung Koo Kang, Seoul, 2007, p. 117) Kang's 'artistic caricatures' successfully capture the essence of his subjects in a transcendental and timeless moment, overcoming the mere dictionary definition of caricature limited to its usage as satire and humor. Equivalent to the effect of Kang's hyperrealistic portraits, this caricature painting is powerfully effective with its striking visuals that are full of emotion and character, especially in the immediacy of impact in the gaze of Beethoven as intensified by Kang's hyperrealistic techniques.

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