Mar 4 - Apr 10
Korean artist Kim Tschang-Yeul (1929-2021) devoted his creative life to reviewing a single subject ‘Water’ and the myriad of thematic ways we interpret it. Rich with Zen Buddhist, cultural and political overtones, his life’s work spanned and reflected seismic changes in Korean society. By presenting water in so many ways the archetypical properties of fluidity, change and resilience saturate the viewing experience as from work to work the power of the metaphor builds to a crescendo of interconnected meaning.
As Kim’s practice matured, his glassy droplets, in a sense, became a portal. Embedded in each is the promise of a path to healing. Kim has stated that ‘if I tried to make a water drop that was transparent, I would open something up.’ What Kim struck upon in these dewy drops was a confluence of philosophical tenets and personal resonance. It is not just that Kim’s portly orbs are moored to Taoist principles aligning water—an element which gives and expects nothing—with ‘supreme goodness.’ It is also in the process of depicting water that Kim draws on Eastern ideology. To achieve the translucent beads, which sit ripe on the canvas, ready to be swiped, demands the patience associated with Zen Buddhism.”
As if sacrificing himself to his chosen form and showing the conviction of a disciple, his dedication is absolute: ‘You do what has to be done with no concept of time, with no concept of finish.’ If time melts away with this form, then Kim’s series should be viewed as one. Kim’s movement through different phases and the fundamental repetition of the form over an extensive period—some 48 years—is to echo the cycles that are fundamental to Zen Buddhism. Clues are found in his titles: Recurrence is just that. This type of work, characterised by a grid background of calligraphic characters taken from the Chinese text ‘Thousand Character Classic,’ ebb and flow across Kim’s oeuvre. His work with newspaper is similar, as are his Decomposition pieces. Working in a cyclical pattern, Kim’s styles are picked up, put down, and revisited.” – Dr Cleo Roberts (Exhibition text)
Almin Rech London presents Water Drops, the first posthumous exhibition of Korean artist Kim Tschang-Yeul, opening on March 4, 2021. The exhibition will span the career of Kim Tschang-Yeul’s work, conceived to celebrate the full scope of his artistic legacy. As much a spiritual exhibition as it is a visual one there is a prevading sense of calm and resolve that heals the viewer as they consider whether the play between ‘mundane’ and ‘magical’ heightens or masks water’s essential nature.
Grosvenor Hill, Broadbent House. W1K 3JH. London UK. T +44 20 72 87 36 44. www.alminerech.com
Main Image (Detail): Waterdrops, 1979 – Oil on canvas – 259 x 195 cm, 102 x 76 3/4 in / © The Estate of Kim Tschang-Yeul – Courtesy of the Estate and Almine Rech – Photo: Rebecca Fanuele
Recurrence, 1994-2017 – Oil and indian ink on canvas – 88.9 x 145.1 x 2.2 cm, 35 x 57 1/8 x 7/8 in / © The Estate of Kim Tschang-Yeul – Courtesy of the Estate and Almine Rech – Photo: Matt Kroening
Waterdrop, 1974 – Oil on canvas – 45 x 41 cm, 17 3/4 x 16 1/8 in / © The Estate of Kim Tschang-Yeul – Courtesy of the Estate and Almine Rech – Photo: Rebecca Fanuele
Waterdrops, 1996 – Oil and acrylic on canvas – 55 x 46 x 2 cm, 21 5/8 x 18 1/8 x 3/4 in / © The Estate of Kim Tschang-Yeul – Courtesy of the Estate and Almine Rech – Photo: Rebecca Fanuele
Waterdrop, 2017 – Oil on canvas – 117 x 50 cm, 46 1/8 x 19 3/4 in / © The Estate of Kim Tschang-Yeul – Courtesy of the Estate and Almine Rech – Photo: Rebecca Fanuele
Waterdrops, 1986 – India Ink and oil on canvas – 80 x 80 cm, 32 1/2 x 32 1/2 in / © The Estate of Kim Tschang- Yeul – Courtesy of the Estate and Almine Rech – Photo: Rebecca Fanuele