Kim Sou Sou - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale Hong Kong Tuesday, June 21, 2022 | Phillips

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  • An alumnus of the Oil Painting Department at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, Korean artist Kim Sou Sou values qualities of simplicity and innocence, which are also at the core of his artistic approach. Fire 1 and Fire 2 belong to Kim’s acclaimed Fire series of works inspired by a newspaper photograph he came across of industrial workers facing the blazing flames of a furnace. This project marks a departure from Kim’s formal training in painting depictions of realism, and the beginning of his development into abstract representations of fire with a focus on composition, colour, and texture.




    Kim Sou Sou speaking about his inspirations and creative process for his solo exhibition in Seoul, HORI Artspace & AIF Lounge, Sou-Sou Kim: Language of Fire, 24 – 31 March 2021



    Though Kim’s inspiration stems from the figures and objects found in everyday life, his work presents a playful dialogue between colour, space, and movement, which immediately recalls the practice of world renowned Dutch abstract painter Piet Mondrian. Originally going to the furnace site intending to paint the workers there and its surroundings, Kim found himself instead drawn to the furnace itself and the fire that was burning within it.



    A worker in front of a furnace in Pohang, South Korea

    Image Courtesy of The Korea Herald



    In each of the two present works, the black frame represents the outline of the furnace entrance whereas the colour blocks of red and blue symbolise the fire. Kim discovered on his site visit that whilst fire is primarily associated with the colours red and orange, the colour of the highest temperature in flame is in fact blue. By zooming in on fire—this powerful and mesmerising element that is indispensable to our lives—the artist depicts a vibrant portrayal that is abstract yet perfectly illusory in its representation.


    Piet Mondrian, Composition with Red, Blue and Yellow, 1930

    Collection of the Kunsthaus Zürich, Zurich



    Looking closely, one encounters a sandpaper-like, grainy texture that belies what initially appears to be mechanically smooth. As Kim explains, ‘since my expression of fire is in the simplest form, I wanted to show a lot of thickness and rough texture on the canvas surface.’ To better portray the moment of fire bursting out of a furnace once its doors open, Kim custom-creates brushes according to the size of each canvas that he paints on, with the present works requiring a brush as wide as 1.6 metres long. Using this brush, Kim then marks a horizontal, charcoal-coloured band across the lower half of the paintings, to represent the opening and closing of a furnace door.


    Kim’s work has recently been shown in Art in Faith, a fund-raising group exhibition for Ukraine Refugee hosted by HORI Artspace, Seoul (22 March - 23 April 2022). His latest solo exhibition Sou-sou Kim: Language of Fire also recently took place in Seoul at HORI Artspace & AIF Lounge, running from 24 – 31 March 2021.


    • Provenance

      Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner


2 Works: (i) Fire 1; (ii) Fire 2

(i) signed 'Kim Sou Sou.' lower right; further signed and dated 'Kim Sou Sou 50P 220210 B. 2018' on the reverse
(ii) signed 'Kim Sou Sou.' lower right; further signed and dated 'Kim Sou Sou 50P 220211 R. 2018' on the reverse

oil, graphite and carbon on canvas
each 116.8 x 80.3 cm. (45 7/8 x 31 5/8 in.)
Executed in 2018.

Full Cataloguing

HK$120,000 - 180,000 

Sold for HK$201,600

Contact Specialist

Danielle So
Specialist, Head of Day Sale
+852 2318 2027

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale

Hong Kong Auction 21 June 2022