KYOUNG-KAP, Min (1933-)

Korean ink on paper
99 x 84 cm
Date of entry at UNESCO
Country of origin Rep. Korea
Donating country Rep. Korea
Donation made to UNESCO by the artist, through the delegation of the Republic of Korea, on the occasion of the exhibition of his work at UNESCO Headquarters.
© Photo: UNESCO/P. Lagès
All rights reserved

This work by Min Kyoung-kap is entitled "Towards Nature" and dates from 2001. Nature is at the center of Kyoung-Kap’s work, who, through his paintings, recalls the environment and geography of the country, focusing particularly on mountains.

One can imagine that the imposing mass of white mass in this work depicts a mountain. It does not seem to represent a specific mountain, as all distinguishable features have been eliminated. Only the essential, the permanent aspects of Korean mountains has been shown in order to give the work its simplicity. Nature seems lightweight, restricted to an almost entirely geometric shape.

White and black dominate the painting; the black background brings out the white of the mountain, which represents purity and simplicity. Between both, the artist has incorporated touches of gray as if to show that the white mountain blends naturally into the background.

The lines are straight as they represent the mountain edges;they accentuate the contrast between black and white. The mountain is represented by a series of oblique overlapping bands, which gives an impression of diagonal movement, going from the bottom left of the painting to the top right.

The three small bands of bright color create a surprising contrast with the predominant black and white. Much finer than the white stripes that represent the mountains, these bands are made up of red, pink, green, blue and yellow. They add to the impression of movement and give dynamism to the work. Perhaps they also, abstractly, refer to other aspects of nature?

The small white rectangles that stand out from the white mass appear to float in the air and give the impression that the mountain is "crumbling", which could be interpreted as a possible hint of nostalgia. Despite this, Kyoung-Kap seems to have wanted to convey an atmosphere of serenity and calm.

This work belongs to a series of paintings entitled "Harmony with nature", made between 2000 and 2001. This series consists solely of mountainous landscapes and is more abstract than the previous ones. The bright colors are gradually disappearing to give way to white, black and gray. Each of the paintings in this series has the same dynamic sense of movement thanks to the diagonal lines. Kyoung-Kap also regularly includes small rectangular or triangular spots of color that undoubtedly represent trees, birds and other animals living in the mountains.

Artist Biography

Min Kyoung Kap is a Korean painter, born in 1933. He studied at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Seoul. In the 1950s, he essentially used Indian ink and depicted sober, bare landscapes; details were eliminated in order to keep only the essence. The hue which he most used was gray. In the 1960s, these minimalistic forms begin to melt away and become large spots evoking a spiritual world; the changes in the titles of his works confirm this. Minn Kyoung Kap was at the heart of his abstract period. With the 1970s comes a transformation of his art, which is actually an extension of his initial period, and therefore a return to his beginnings and a realistic style. He at this period discovered the crucial function of color. In 1980, his compositions are, for the most part, of mountain shapes. When looking at his most recent works, one realizes the importance given to nature, which gradually became the only theme in his paintings.