In Maria vs. Audrey Hepburn (Lot 1572), Kim once again showcases his artistic ingenuity through impeccable brushwork and innovative technique. Following the same artistic approach as that of Marilyn Monroe vs. Marilyn Monroe (Lot 1030) offered in our Evening Sale, the structure of Maria vs. Audrey Hepburn is deliberately articulated in modulation to instigate activity in every form that this two-dimensional canvas can provide. Rendered in a gold tonal gradient echoing the halo surrounding religious iconography, this painting is composed of an assemblage of miniscule portraits of Audrey Hepburn, which when viewed with a proper distance, give rise to an awe-inspiring image of Maria. This playful construction induces the audience to physically shift their viewing distance and angle to fully capture the details and panorama of the painting, and at the same time challenges their stereotypical perceptions of the characters portrayed.
The choice of Maria and Audrey Hepburn for the painting is bewildering as one attempts to unravel any parallel between these two luminaries. Whether such choice is arbitrary or calculated, through this process of disorientation, the artist has successfully engaged viewers in an active discourse with his work and elicited a novel perspective on these excessively consumed images. The rapid growth of technology has spawned a vast collection of iconic images, which have so thoroughly saturated our lives through various media that an image of Maria or Audrey Hepburn no longer excites viewers but gets translated automatically into certain characteristics such as holiness and grace. By juxtaposing two previously unrelated figures in an innovative arrangement, Kim deconstructs this automatic association, liberating the figures from their mystified context to create a visual idiom for audience to decipher.