Young-sung is a South Korean artist. Kim’s hyperrealistic oil paintings of fish swimming in glass dishes and cups have earned him acclaim. Kim utilizes teeny-tiny brushes to bring out every aspect of his subjects, whether it’s a beta fish’s vibrant tail or a goldfish’s glistening scales. The creatures are painted on enormous canvases and arranged like live still lifes for the visitor to appreciate.
Kim’s photorealistic paintings are part of his continuing series Nothing. Life. Object., which explores modern society’s collapse in the face of “increased growth of material civilizations.” Kim wants to remark on society’s inclination to ignore organic species by contrasting live and material objects and showcasing them as a piece of theater or advertisement.
The artist’s obsession with the beauty of living beings dates back to his childhood, when they caused him to pause and consider their place in the world. In Kim’s series, these creatures have become symbols for life, and they have been driven out of their natural habitat into an item that confines them.
“In modern culture, what is the worth or significance of living organisms?” To humans, what does it mean to be alive? They live beside humans in the same habitat, but they are constantly seen as food or ornamental items in a lesser hierarchy,” Kim argues. “Despite the fact that they are living creatures with significance and worth, humans only employ them for certain purposes when we have specific reasons.” This structure is used to describe the interactions between men, men and organizations, and men and society in modern society. Humans, being a living thing, are occasionally seen and employed as a functional item.”
Kim’s hyperrealistic painting takes on new meaning in this context. We forget about the anguish these live creatures must go through when “posing” for the work as we gaze at static photographs of them on display for our appreciation. It’s an irony not missed on Kim, who contrasts this facade to the countless people who suffer from deception. “Today’s humans decorate themselves nicely and appear to live happy, stable lives, yet their lives appear to be no different than the plight of these animals, who are trying to survive in a restricted place where they are entirely exposed to others.”
Young-sung Kim uses oil paint and small brushes to create amazingly accurate images of fish in glass bowls.
The piece is part of a series that examines humanity’s current status in the modern world.
Hyperrealist painters use snails, frogs, and lizards as models.
Watch as the South Korean artist creates his photorealist masterpieces.