The Water Drop Painter Kim Tschang-Yeul

For the last 40 years, Kim Tschang-Yeul has focussed on painting water drops on his canvasses, and the results are completely awe inspiring. He is considered the artist that inspired monochromatic painting as well as one of the most influential Korean masters in the contemporary art in the West.

A tranquil morning, sunlight slid in from the window, shining on the canvas sprayed with water the night before. The glistening and sparkling water drops at the moment moved Kim Tschang-yeul so much that he started working on waterdrops. That is how it all began, and four decades later he is still perfecting his art.

He keeps painting the water drops, over and over, with an attempt to erase the pains and to look for absolute transparency, absolute withering, until he reaches a spiritual state of emptiness. “The process of painting the water drops is to filter, to dissolve all the impurities out of them and return them to a clear state of nothing. When all the rage, anxiety, and fear come to the moment of nothing, we reach a state of peace and comfort.”
“After nine years gazing at a wall, Master Bodhidharma had his revelation, became a superman, and flew away toward the east or the west. I have been painting water drops for more than forty years, but I can’t even say for sure if I clearly see the path before me, not to mention liberation. I don’t always feel what one may call fulfilment every time I finish a work.”

It’s hard to believe his work was made by hand, as they just look impossibly realistic. Kim’s dedication to his art even resulted in him receiving a museum entirely dedicated to his work on Jeju Island, which remains the highest honor given to any currently living Korean artist.

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