The flatness of the canvas is enlivened by the seemingly random scattering of drops; they are perfectly rendered, each with its distinct shape, size, and gravitational destiny. Some appear to dissipate, on the brink of evaporating; others lean into their shape, as if about to relinquish their attachment to the canvas and descend towards the earth. As such, Kim also offers the viewer a temporal paradox: this seemingly ephemeral moment, so brief that it is hardly noticed or captured in nature, is crystallized here for eternity, the clarity of the water drops tromp l'oiel monuments to the transience of time in Kim's deft handling of the viscous oil paint.
"I see repetition in terms of Buddhist prayer. You repeat and repeat until it blocks out all other thoughts, and you pass into an empty state. I have thought a great deal about my experiences during the way, and the water drops have become a requiem for the dead. For me, painting can be compared to an act of consolation towards the spirits of the dead, in the same way that one sprinkles water to protect the dead from evil spirits during a Buddhist purification ritual." - Kim Tschang Yeul
Kim's praxis then is explicitly tied to Buddhist notions of ritual, spiritual protection, and purification. His works represent a material manifestation of a monk-like devotion to enlightenment, each a unique prayer that must be understood in the larger context of Kim's ongoing quest. As such, they also ask of the viewer to enter into a meditative state, they become like a visualized koan, wherein meaning cannot be attained through rational thought but instead through the intuitive contemplation of oppositions. In Kim's extraordinary, humble canvases, we discover the miniscule and the infinite, the temporal and the eternal, the material and the spiritual. As the viewer grasps at these concepts like fistfuls of sand, he gains a new appreciation for Kim's sensitivity of technical and philosophical expression, and the powerful way he has tapped a deep cultural tradition to enlighten and enliven contemporary art practice.