Ik-joong Kang lives and works in the Chelsea district of New York City. In a statement quoted on the World Wide Web, he describes how he came to his unique compositions of discrete miniature paintings on canvas (lot 478), or on individual blocks of wood, mounted as here:
I developed the 3 x 3-inch format during my days as an art student at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn--but outside the classroom, in response to practical necessity. As an impoverished student, I worked a total of twelve hours a day at a Korean grocery store in Manhattan, and as a watchman at a flea market in Far Rockaway, Queens. Looking for ways to effectively utilize time spent on long subway rides, I discovered that 3-inch square canvases fit easily into my pocket and into the palm of my hand. My lengthy commute became transformed into work time in a mobile studio. (See "Dreams and Reality: Korean American Contemporary Art; http://www.koamart2003.com/Artist06.htm)
On his own website, the artist adds that the 3 x 3-inch format was not only convenient, it also relates to the distance between the eyes. Continuing the thought, he explains that his miniature paintings, fitting so comfortably in the hand, conform to the adage that the palm reflects what it is the mind. He likens his work to the concept developed during the Italian Renaissance whereby the painting was seen as a window on the world.
Kang works in oil, watercolor, Sumi ink, acrylic and liquid polymer on standard canvas stretched and stapled to a stretcher (lot 478), on wood, as here, or on ceramic tiles. A large-scale "Happy World," 1998, composed of hundreds of painted ceramic tiles is installed in the Main Street/Flushing Station of the IRT Flushing Line, New York City Transit Authority. There Kang has returned his own twist on the observation that inspired him twenty years ago: from a distance the tiles affixed to the station walls form a composite picture but are distinct when viewed up close. "It is like a Japanese shoji screen that divides areas of a house. Each small square is part of a bigger space." (see Marion Budick, "Ik-Joong Kang," ARTimes (Nov. 1900), reprinted http://www.amazedworld.com/eamazed/eend/eend2_1990_3.1)