An artist’s paintings of fish and other animals are so detailed they look just like the real thing

South Korean artist Young-sung Kim is taking the photorealism genre of art to new heights by generating art that is

caption
South Korean artist Young-sung Kim is taking the photorealism genre of art to new heights by generating art that is “more real than reality.”
source
Young-sung Kim

  • South Korean artist Young-sung Kim is taking the photo-realism genre of art to new heights by generating art that he says is “more real than reality.”
  • Kim uses oil on canvas to create stunning and often mind-bending high-definition images of small animals such as fish, snails, lizards, and frogs.
  • Kim, 46, says he spends 12 hours each day working on his masterpieces, which typically take anywhere from three to 10 months to make and sell for anywhere between $20,000 and $100,000.
  • You can see more of Kim’s work at Waterfall Mansion in New York City, Plus One Gallery in London, UK, and The Studio in South Korea, or on his Facebook and Instagram pages.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Photo-realistic art is not a new phenomenon, with artists like Chuck Close and Gottfried Helnwein creating portraits that look more like glossy prints than paintings on canvas. But South Korean artist Young-sung Kim is taking the genre to new heights by generating art that he says is “more real than reality.”

Kim uses oil on canvas to create stunning and often mind-bending high-definition images of small animals such as fish, snails, lizards, and frogs. Kim, 46, told Insider that he spends 12 hours each day working on his masterpieces, which typically take anywhere from three to 10 months to produce and command $20,000 to $100,000 from buyers.

Check out Kim’s story, and his too-real-to-believe paintings, below.


Young-sung Kim, an artist from Seoul, Korea, paints hyperrealistic pictures that look too real to believe.

caption
A Young-sung Kim painting of a beta fish.
source
Young-sung Kim

Kim, 46, uses oil on canvas to create the stunning paintings that can look more realistic than photographs to the naked eye.

caption
Young-sung Kim painting a beta fish.
source
Young-sung Kim

Insider spoke with Kim about the process of creating what he calls “an advanced, extreme hyperrealism that precedes any reality — more real than photographs and high-definition monitors.”

caption
Young-sung Kim with a painting of a frog.
source
Young-sung Kim

Kim said that, from start to finish, designing and planning a new piece involves “collecting small animals, taking photographs, preparing a canvas, sketching, drawing, and painting with small brushes.”

source
Young-sung Kim

Kim told Insider that he works 12 hours per day.

caption
Young-sung Kim painting a lizard.
source
Young-sung Kim

According to the artist, each of his paintings can take anywhere from three to 10 months to complete.

caption
A Young-sung Kim painting of a beta fish.
source
Young-sung Kim

Kim’s infatuation with small animals started when he was a young boy. “I’ve been collecting, observing, and studying them since I was a child,” he told us.

caption
Young-sung Kim painting a snail.
source
Young-sung Kim

“I was amazed at the detail and the subtle colors that I saw in my work, just as I looked through a microscope,” he added.

caption
A Young-sung Kim painting of a frog.
source
Young-sung Kim

“I remember that when I was nine years old, I was drawing a specimen of cicadas and I was amazed at the feeling of both great emotion and disappointment about it not being my best,” he said. “Then I told myself ‘I will become an artist!'”

caption
Young-sung Kim painting a fish.
source
Young-sung Kim

Beyond challenging himself to make art that looks “more real than reality,” Kim creates his hyperrealistic paintings with a larger purpose.

caption
A Young-sung Kim painting of a lizard.
source
Young-sung Kim

“I have chosen my genre as hyperrealism because people in today’s society think of animals and nature as methods of ornament, experiment, and edibility,” he said.

caption
Young-sung Kim painting a fish.
source
Young-sung Kim

“My genre may be able to make the people think twice about the unintentionally abusive nature of their behavior towards animals and nature,” he added.

caption
A Young-sung Kim painting of a snail.
source
Young-sung Kim

“Let’s take care of small animals,” Kim said. “If they cannot live, humans cannot live either.”

caption
Young-sung Kim painting a beta fish.
source
Young-sung Kim

Kim has painted many creatures throughout his career, but his favorite work so far is the bumblebee he recently completed.

caption
Young-sung Kim painting a bumblebee.
source
Young-sung Kim

“Despite working enormously hard and doing my best, it took a long time — more than a year,” he said, speaking of the painting.

caption
Young-sung Kim standing in front of his bumblebee painting.
source
Young-sung Kim

Kim cited Gottfried Helnwein, Jeff Koons, and Pablo Picasso as the artists who most influenced his own creative identity.

caption
A Young-sung Kim painting of a frog.
source
Young-sung Kim

Kim’s paintings sell for anywhere from $20,000 to $100,000.

caption
Young-sung Kim painting a fish.
source
Young-sung Kim

You can see Kim’s work in person at Waterfall Mansion in New York City, Plus One Gallery in London, UK, and The Studio in South Korea.

caption
Young-sung Kim painting a snail.
source
Young-sung Kim

Check out more of his works and videos detailing his process on his Facebook and Instagram pages.