Asian Art
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Full-size image not available for download. Please contact Rights and Reproductions.
Artist: GuGu Kim, Korean, born 1970

Rain Washes the Body, Enlightenment Cleanses the Soul


Hanging scroll; ink on canvas, finger painting

without mounting: 60 15/16 × 64 3/8 in. (154.8 × 163.5 cm)
with mounting: 86 13/16 × 67 7/16 in. (220.5 × 171.3 cm)
with rollers: 71 7/16 in. (181.5 cm)
Gift of Robert D. Mowry in honor of GuGu Kim
GuGu, which means “ninety-nine” in Korean and Chinese, is Kim’s pen name and the name of his studio in Seoul. Instead of using a brush, Kim painted this work with both his fingers and his hands. He also stamped the ink onto the canvas with the ridges of his fingerprints, a technique he refers to as “fingerstamping,” an innovation to the centuries-long East Asian tradition of painting with fingers and nails. The title of the painting was given by the donor, who recently gifted the work to the museum at the request of the artist. Kim had initially titled the painting Nirvana (yeolban in Korean), which is written on the back and is a reference to the final passing of Shakyamuni Buddha during the lifetime in which he achieved the state of enlightenment.
Not on view
21st century

The artist; sold to Robert D. Mowry, Brookline, Mass., December, 2018 [see note 1]; given to the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., 2022

Note 1: The painting was purchased from the artist at Special Exhibition: GuGu Kim Finger Paintings, New York, 4 December 2018 – 5 January 2019

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.