Kim Tschang-Yeul - New Now Hong Kong Friday, March 29, 2024 | Phillips
  • Scattered atop a background of motorsport articles, the enigmatic and arresting droplets in Waterdrops exemplify Kim Tschang-Yeul’s fascination with mark making, and his dedication towards the singular motif which defined his artistic career. Perfectly rendered using acrylic and Indian ink, each trompe-l'oeil drop of water is depicted in a unique state of existence: fresh droplets reminiscent of glistening pearls adorn a majority of the surface; some have begun to slip down towards the ground; others have merged to form a larger puddle. Depicted on a section of French newspaper from 1981, the pristine droplets are frozen in time, their painted shadows darkening and obscuring parts of the printed text like their physical counterpart would. Oscillating between the real and the illusionary, this photorealistic portrayal provokes a desire to touch the waterless drops, as well as instilling a sense of serenity in viewers.



    Kim Tschang-Yeul, Le Figaro, 1975.

    Artwork: © Kim Tschang-Yeul


    Kim began incorporating newspapers into his practice to explore the relationship between text and his iconic droplets - in 1975, he painted water drops on the front page of the French newspaper Le Figaro, his first work to feature writing in the background.



    Detail of the present lot


    In contrast to the actual reality presented in news articles, the hyper-reality of the drops evokes the surreal, with their luminous and tactile appearance suggesting ethereality. Though separate entities, individual droplets combine to form a spiraling composition that touches upon the Buddhist concepts of ephemerality, oneness, and the significance of water in Eastern philosophy. Weightless, calming, and pure, they further reveal the inner emotions of the artist himself. Kim explains that his aim was, 'to dissolve everything into drops of water and return it transparently into nothingness. When we have turned anger, unease, and fear into emptiness, we can experience peace and harmony.' i Thus, the painting of water drops is not only an aesthetic consideration, but the artist’s process of healing from his past trauma. Suspended for eternity, these transient motifs delicately bridge impermanence with resilience, drawing our attention to the fragile yet complex patterns that can be found within nature.


    Kim Tschang-Yeul, quoted in Andrew Russeth, ‘Kim Tschang-Yeul, 91, Dies; Painted Water Drops Swollen With Meaning’, The New York Times, 15 January 2021, online

    • Provenance

      Almine Rech, Paris
      Acquired from the above by the present owner



signed and dated 'T. Kim 82' lower right
acrylic and Indian ink on newspaper
53 x 20 cm. (20 7/8 x 7 7/8 in.)
Executed in 1982.

Full Cataloguing

HK$100,000 - 120,000 

Sold for HK$120,650

Contact Specialist

Angela Tian
Associate Specialist, Head of New Now Sale
20th Century & Contemporary Art, Hong Kong
+852 2318 2058

New Now

Hong Kong Auction 29 March 2024