Kim Tschang-yeul was born in 1929 in South Korea. He is considered the artist that inspired monochromatic painting as well as one of the most influential Korean masters in the contemporary art in the West, right after Paik Nam June. At the time of Japanese colonialism and Korean war, the turmoil of social culture and political history pushed Kim to participate in the movement of contemporary art and establish his self through art. In the 1960s, Kim decided to leave his homeland and sojourned in New York; in the 1970s, Kim made Paris his home. A tranquil morning, sunlight slid in from the window, shining on the canvas sprayed with water the night before. The glistening and sparkling water drops at the moment moved Kim Tschang-yeul so much that he started working on waterdrops. Over the next four decades in Paris, Kim would be doing the same thing: painting water drops. There, then, comes the reputation of the "painter of water drops". In 2004, Kim was invited to display his works in an art show at Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, where he was awarded with the Commandeur medal, the highest honor of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
Water drops are translucent and glistening, nonetheless vanishing within moments. Kim Tschang-yeul's water drops are intimately connected to his life, that is, the wars, poverty, love and pain he's been through. He keeps painting the water drops, over and over, with an attempt to erase the pains and to look for absolute transparency, absolute withering, until he reaches a spiritual state of emptiness. "The process of painting the water drops is to filter, to dissolve all the impurities out of them and return them to a clear state of nothing. When all the rage, anxiety, and fear come to the moment of nothing, we reach a state of peace and comfort." To Kim, the pure clean water drop is a consolation, a remedy for himself, seeking, not forgetting, peace, forgiveness, and reflection between now and the past. Regardless of single drops or in groups, the water drops of Kim Tschang-yeul are sprinkled non-uniformly upon the canvas of sleek or rough surface. It is as if they are falling off the canvas, or they are absorbed by the canvas but afloat, or it is that they are pulled out of the canvas by gravity. And a ray of light gleams from the side, slightly gliding through the isolated water drops, reflecting their crystal clarity. The water drops give the extremely realistic impression made out of fiction, enticing people to touch them. Time also finds its own refraction in the water drops with enormous layers and transparency: every temporary moment that doesn't seem to be is actually permanent existence. How we captures the flashes of our creative mind determines how insightful that particular piece of memory unfolds to us. Kim Tschang-yeul is convinced that he shall make water drops the thematic subject of his painting career, for which he does with such care, details, and joy of art in everyday life, so much so that it paves the way to art for him. By 1972, new Waterdrops works revealed a substantial conceptual shift as opposed to the Phenomenon series which appeared to visualize the quality of existence. Water drop on his canvas was no longer alone. The number of water drops radically increases in all sizes, which turns reality into beauty and reflects the lightness of life and the wonder of existence.
Kim had lived abroad for many years, in the 1980s, he recalled reading and practicing writing when he was a child. Kim decided to draw positive texts from Thousand Character Classic, or deconstruct Chinese letters to compose together with water drops and created the new series Recurrence. It is a return to Kim's cultural origin as well as the origin of his life; it is also a struggle over the reality and illusion of time and space. By the 1990s, Kim began to paint water drops on wooden boards and newspapers like Le Monde, too, actively exploring new media and techniques for his works. In the other hand, he also makes several pieces of works in sculpture, with iron, bronze, or rock as the base, and with glass for water drops as the installation. Kim persists in pushing for extremely refined changes in plasticity as well as exploring the multiple aesthetic values of water. With his personal life force as well as his simple strokes and plain arrangement in the frame, Kim paints what his mind envisions. In this inner world, with all its moments, intervals, stillness and motions, rests a sophisticated life that opens to the universe through the strokes. No matter if it is his Waterdrops from the 1970s or Recurrence of the 1980s and 1990s, Kim structures countless highly realistic water drops in the abstract space. And, with the impermanence of time by which he contemplates, Kim expresses the immensity and nothingness of nirvana and the ever-flowing life.
"My Waterdrops paintings are accomplished under the encounters of my life experiences and my plasticizing experiences." Each clear, impeccable water drop is in its initial state since purification, as if it is a recurrence of absolute nothingness; the first water drop is also what it finally returns to. For 4 decades Kim remained painting in Paris, and returned to Seoul, South Korea in 2008. " The famous monk Dharma meditated for nine years to achieve spiritual enlightenment; I have been painting water drops for 40 years but wasn't able to reach dharma's level of enlightenment. But I earned a museum instead. " In September, 2016, Kim Tschang-Yeul Art Museum officially opened on Jeju Island.
In the world of Kim's water drops there is warm sunlight, cool breeze, chilling air; so are there gentle talks, cheering words, and harmonious melodies. Just like morning dew and raindrop, every moment is a tear of the god. This is Kim's second art show in Taiwan, since his retrospective exhibition in 2013 at National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts. With earnest sincerity, Metaphysical Art Gallery invites you to " Traces of Beads,
"Water drops may be translucent, glistening, yet impermanent and empty; Kim Tschang-yeul's waterdrops preserve the thrill of beauty forever. " said the curator, Kim Sunhee