China-Korea Academic ColloquiumDecember  5, 2015 (Sat.) 16:00 pm

[Title]The Painting of  Kang Hyung Koo: the Face — a Symbol of Time and History


Synthetic  Realism, Hyperrealism, Painting Quality, Figure Painting, Self Portrait

[Chinese Speakers]

Li  Fan (李帆, Associate Professor of Central Academy of Fine Art, Artist)

Shao  Yiyang (邵亦杨, Deputy Dean and Professor of School of  Humanities, Central Academy of Fine Art)

Zhang  Gan (张敢,Deputy Dean and Professor of Academy of  Arts & Design, Tsinghua University)

[Korean Speakers]

Kang  Suk Ho (姜锡昊, Artist)

Kim  Sung Ho (金圣镐, Art Critic, Artistic Director of 2015 Busan Sea Art Festival)

Min  Byung Jic (闵丙直, Vice  Director of Alternative Space LOOP, Korea)

▣About theExhibition


Korean artist Kang Hyung Koo’s soloexhibition Soul with one’s flame willopen at the Parkview Green Exhibition Hall on December 5, 2015. Kang is one ofthe most influential living artists in Korea today, his works highly regardedby art lovers in Korea and around the world. Soul with one’s flame will be presented in the Parkview GreenExhibition Hall, as well as around the Parkview Green Shopping Mall, including the Opera BOMBANA Italian restaurant. Six of the thirty works presentedin this exhibition are the products of the artist’s one month residence inBeijing. These works recreate classic figures from China’s history, such asPeking Man, Guan Yu and Deng Xiaoping, who now quietlyawait their encounter with Chinese audiences. The exhibition willcontinue until February 26, 2016.

Kang Hyung Koo creates close-ups of humanfaces on giant canvases. His works are marked by the meticulous depiction ofhair and wrinkles on the faces of his subjects, and he is known for paintingimages of such celebrities as Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, WinstonChurchill, Vincent van Gogh and Andy Warhol. Many mistakenly classify him as aHyperrealist or Photorealist, but he does not follow the Photorealism orHyperrealism technique of transposing a photograph to the canvas exactly as theeye sees it. For instance, none of us have ever seen what Marilyn Monroe, whodied at the age of 36, would look like at the age of eighty. Herwrinkle-covered face, loose skin, sparse hair and cold gaze, as seen in Marilyn Monroe, featured in thisexhibition, are all purely figments of the artist’s imagination. Theimagination of an old age appearance for a woman who never reached old age canbe seen as an act of recalling this star-crossed life, or an attempt to consoleher. Inother words, the images that emerge on his canvases are a synthesis of variousimages of these figures in his mind. The art world has coined a new term todescribe this—“Synthetic Realism.”


Kang Hyung Koo’s aim is not merely topresent us with a certain celebrity, but with lives that certain individualsare living or once lived in this world, and his own insights on the path oflife. We can sense this in the silent gazes of his figures. This gaze bringsthe painting beyond the simple role of an “object of appreciation” to effect anexchange in the truest sense with the viewer.

Kangdescribes himself as an artist “like a stray cat rummaging through the trashcans.” The reason for this is that when he was researching his Hyperrealismtechniques to serve as a foundation for his Figure Painting, concrete figurepainting was left out in the cold by Korean art world. Kang Hyung Koo objectsto the view that figure painting is merely portraiture, insisting that figurepainting can be used to freely express the spirit of the times. And so hereached into the “trash can” for the concrete figure painting that had beenthrown away by the Korean art world, eventually reaching a realm of “mytechnique for my own use (我用我法),” andgaining recognition as an artist for his sincere expressions of the state ofsociety and the human heart.