Tschang-Yeul Kim, one of the best-known and most respected of Korean contemporary artists, studied at the College of Fine Arts at Seoul National University. While living in Seoul, he was a part of the Korean avant-garde, painting abstract compositions of holes and dots. He came to New York in 1965 to study at the Art Students League, arriving in the middle of the Pop Art scene. At this time he painted colorful, transparent balloons. After he moved to Paris in the early '70s, the balloon became the waterdrop. Since then, Mr. Tschang has done many paintings of water drops. They look like glassy pearls, and seem three-dimensional, as if poised on the canvas and ready to roll off. In some paintings there will be a few drops, in others, hundreds.
His paintings are often witty and illusionistic: For instance, in one work a neat rectangle of drops is placed next to a rectangle of gray splotches where the drops have ``soaked in.'' The plain canvas backdrop is usually either tan or pale olive. This suppression of the background is common in Far Eastern art.
In the painting shown above, the writing is an artistic arrangement of calligraphy. The background is tan, the color of paper bags; the extremely tight neat letters are black. Each individual drop gleams, as does its shadow, which seems to have light shining through it. As Jeung Byeung Kwan points out in a monograph devoted to Mr. Tschang: ``Each one of them is the ideal or the dream of the drop of water....''
A one-man show of the work of Tschang-Yeul Kim opens Nov. 7 at the Gallery Moos in Toronto.