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An exhibition only focuses on one artist. From five different periods, with selected works in all varieties.

Metaphysical Art Gallery proudly presents “The Moment”, a special exhibition on Kim Tschang-yeul. This exhibition is the first event of the series “Five Faces of The Artist” we propose, and with the event we introduce Kim Tschang-yeul, the South Korean master of monochromatic painting. “The Moment” presents Kim’s works from 1975 to 2016, on paper, on canvas and with sand, demonstrating his unique aesthetics of transience yet permanence in waterdrops.

Kim Tschang-yeul (1929-2021) was the most influential South Korean figure in international contemporary art since Paik Nam June. In the 1960s, Kim made a difficult decision and left his homeland to stay in New York; in the 1970s, he went even further to Paris. In a quiet, peaceful morning, Kim splashed some water on his canvas by accident, and this beautiful episode would open a new path in art for Kim. For the next four decades Kim had been obsessed with one thing only: painting waterdrops. A climax of this creative trajectory was Kim’s 2004 exhibition at Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume in Paris, where he was decorated with medal of Commandeur, the highest honor of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France.

Kim Tschang-yeul’s paintings on waterdrops are intimately related to the war, poverty, love and pain he had experienced in life. He painted them over and over again, trying to erase all the wounds and pains, searching for absolute transparency and passing that he reached the mental state of emptiness. By the 1980s, Kim began to employ the Thousand Character Classic from China or dissected Chinese characters to compose the waterdrops in his art; he would later develop those works into the “Recurrence” series, which served as a return to his own cultural origin.

It may be waterdrops of purity from the 1970s; it may very well be recurrence of the 1980s or 1990s. Thousands and thousands of highly realistic waterdrops composed in abstract space, with a transient temporal structure, Kim Tschang-yeul presents the immensity of nirvana and the infinite flow of life force. To Kim, the pure, clear waterdrops are relief, heal, signifying serenity, forgiveness and reflection yet not oblivion. Singular or in groups, Kim’s waterdrops are splashed unevenly on smooth or rough canvas; or, on carefully covered sand, the waterdrops would appear to fall or to be absorbed, yet it would seem as they float on the canvas. But again, the waterdrops look as if they are pulled out of the surface by gravity, where the sunlight passing from the side would reflect on those round and crystal waterdrops, shining and clear, calling for us to touch them. Such is how Kim creates extreme realness out of fiction.

“My waterdrops painting is made in the encounter of my life experiences and shape formations,” Kim Tschang-yeul once said. Each impeccable drop is its cleansed, purified initial state, the representation of pure emptiness, and its ultimate home. As he states, “Painting the waterdrops is like to dissolve all other substances and return the waterdrops to an ‘empty’, pure state. When all the anger, anxiety and fear arrive at the moment of emptiness, we feel peace and comfort.”

This moment of revelation leads to Kim Tschang-yeul’s profound life. Kim’s waterdrops can be acceptance beyond limits, crystallized purity; they can very well be abstract existence, through millennia or reflections of the sun. They are the skies of no beginnings and no ends, against the sand below and the light as shadow. Kim Tschang-yeul’s waterdrops are in the middle, clean and clear, rolling right between the past and the future.


Waterdrops ??45x38cm ?1975 ??Oil on Canvas

Recurrence ???91x116.5cm ?2016? ?Acrylic and Oil on Canvas

Recurrence ??162 x130 cm? 2013? Acrylic and Oil on Canvas


Waterdrops?? 130 x162.5cm ?2004 ??Oil and Sand on Canvas


Recurrence ??80.5 x116.5cm ?2014 ??Acrylic and Oil on Canvas


Waterdrops ??150x150cm ?1977 ?Oil on Canvas


Recurrence ??53x73cm ?2014 ??Acrylic and Oil on Canvas


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