Exploiting the illusory promises that hyper-realistic paintings make, Kang Hyung-Koo reincarnates Salvador Dali within the grand scale of his canvas, most definitely making the presence known, hence bestowing a sense of existence of life again to the character. Whether it be the grippingly well painted portrayal, astute grasp of the power of colour or even perhaps his understanding and suave toying with the elements of hyperrealism; nevertheless all these qualities only strengthens Kang's maturity and success as an artist, as the viewer finds themselves locked in a mystical spell of his theatrical paintings. The meticulous record of his withered skin stem a sense of swaying magnetism of awe and repel, deliberately leaving the eyes untouched with magnified detailing to allow the deep pools of the protagonist's eyes to become the core expressionism in extracting their profoundly introverted soul. As Kang consumes elements of hyperrealism yet simultaneously avoids to fully epitomize it to declare his paintings to be read beneath the surface, inquiring the audience to spend time to unravel the creases of the skin and its traces.
With this notion in mind, second to his painstakingly time consuming process is his emblematic use of colour and the eloquent control of its monotone palette. Though his basic pictorial description may be engagingly pragmatic, Kang consciously chooses colours that are very far from reality but closer to the surreal. Adeptly appropriate to his characters, Dali and his eccentric yet iconic facial expression is flaunted in Pink Stare of Dali (Lot 35), faintly washed in muted fuchsia against blank whiteness. The pallid, perhaps empty background intensifies the aggravating tonal colour of pink that settles uncomfortably in the viewer's eyes. In doing so, Kang narrates the effect of Dali's personality in the past as half of his surrounding was in awe of his eccentrics whereas the other half felt a strong irritation to his mannerism. His skin is profusely creased as his long life of experiences is woven into the reverberating texture of the echoing space of his pinkly flushed face. Finely attended layers of his white hair are brittle with age, skin supple yet rigid, his grey eyes projecting worldly experiences and tiredness. Nevertheless, the alert pupils of his eyes attest his intellectual depth as a vastly imaginative and versatile individual.
Kang tends to emphasize the eyes and exaggerate facial wrinkles, distorting the person's actual facial image. It is through such distortions that Kang crosses beyond the realm of representation and bestows implications which add a wholly different kind of meaning to the portrait genre. As Pink Stare of Dali displays, Kang's portraits are based on an enigmatic illusion balanced somewhere between Surrealism and Hyperrealism. Kang believes that Surrealism and Hyperrealism both deliver the same sensation by providing an illusion of reality and a sensorial misguidance through persuasive illustrations that simulate reality. Pink Stare of Dali is acutely conscious of its paradoxical tendency of representation and illusion. Kang Hyung-Koo knowingly investigates and rehearses to form a strikingly persuasive illustration of portraitures of significant figures of art history.
Kang's portraits serve to extract mutual dialogues with the viewer and also himself through his subject's profound gaze. The eye invites the audience to its soul, emitting Kang's yearning for these characters to come to life as real people. Striving to portray a mutual communication through the gaze, Kang somewhat overturns his oeuvres as a piece of aesthetic appreciation to an actual person. Portraitures have long been a favoured subject that has been bordered with compositional tedium of a focus that predominantly described the face and expression. Kang retains this customary tendency but warps it into his own exploratory realm by magnifying the facial features to reveal the diversity of emotions through shocking details of facial frauds. Despite his painterly embellishment of the face, the heart of his artistic endeavour remains the same. Kang shares the same inspiration with Gu Kaizhi in his Chinese theory of portraits 'the key to the portrait is not its physical beauty or ugliness, but resides within the eyes.' 'Through the act of painting the eyes, the artist bestows a spiritual existence, making the figures more lifelike and real.'