Construction of Illusion and Reality
Trompe-oeil, the product of European art that had represented the external views and objects exact to the life, went through another phase of development by the American artists in the 1970s. Called as various names such as hyperrealism, focused realism, or sharp realism, the revised tendency augmented even more the lifelikeness of realism by revivifying the photographed landscape into painting.
If trompe-oeil is defined by the pictorial illusion true to life, the paintings of Kim Chang-Young, who, though born in Taegu, Korea, has been pursuing his artistic career in Japan since 1982, certainly belong to this category.
However, unlike the usual trompe-oeil that deals exclusively with the world of thorough illusion, Kim Chang-Young introduces a new structure that comprehends both illusion and reality at the same time.
As the title of his series suggests, the basic element of Kim's work is sand. After coating the actual sand on the surfaces of canvas, wood plate, or straw sack, he describes on the sand the traces of footprints or scratches by hand. At a glance, since the sand is actual, the traces, too, look like the real ones, although they are merely illusions painted in oil colors.
Possibly, here, Kim could paint both the sand surface and the traces in oil colors. However, contrary to our expectation, what Kim does is to subtly enhance the life-like effect of the painted traces by using the actual sand,. Also, reversely, he succeeds in evoking the optical illusion in which even the actual sand looks like the painted illusion. In result, this kind of marriage between illusion and reality presents a new sense of reciprocal interaction to the part of audience.
These days, the scope of Kim's materials has been extended to the wrapping paper and wood plate. Moreover, aside from the tableaus hanging on the wall, he has been making another experiments on three-dimensional volumes. And yet, what is drawn as illusion is illusion to any extent. The introduction of new materials other than sand is simply to intensify the dramatic lifelikeness of illusory description.
By the co-existence of illusion and reality, Kim's work attempt at a deviation from the inherent character of described painting. Trying to transcend the established norm of painting, what Kim intends to do is to make a new approach to our perception of reality, which, after all, is comprised by both the direct sense of reality and complexity of illusion. It certainly is an attempt worthy of notice.
(From the introduction to Kim Chang-Young's Exhibition in June, 1990)