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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Interview with painter Pauline Lim

Well I was cruising Fine Art America the other day and I happened across Pauline's profile. Well that was all it took, I knew I had to interview this wonderful artist. Each of her pieces are filled with so much emotion. I believe each of you will find something to love looking through her work.

When and how did you first become interested in art?
I first became interested in art as a child. Starting when I was four, my brother, sister and I took piano lessons from the same teacher, who kept an enormous stack of comic books. While my siblings had their lessons, I sat in the waiting room reading, "Richie Rich", "Archie", and all the superhero ones. I was fascinated with the drawing in those, and I practiced a lot at home-- both drawing and piano.

What are your artistic influences?
Right now I get really jazzed by medieval art. I have a weekly gig singing in a gorgeous Anglican church in Providence, RI, and I love gazing at all the antique religious artwork and singing the ancient masses. They use a lot of incense and solemn ritual at that church.
Earlier in my adult life, I was very influenced by Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Francis Bacon. In college I worshipped Mark Rothko.

Do you come from an artistic family?
My parents, a doctor and a nurse, were very against my pursuit of art and music as career options; they had given me art and music lessons only to groom me for an Ivy League education. I have an uncle who is an artist, who supported himself as a sign-painter in L.A., who was generally considered the black sheep of the family. Later, our family reconnected with some relatives in North Korea, from whom they'd been separated for 40 years; it turns out that my namesake aunt grew up to be an artist, actress and musician. My parents had always been mystified by their kids' artistic leanings, but it turns out to run in our blood.

What is one of the most memorable artistic moments in your life?
Years ago I won a grant from the local cultural council for music composition (I used to compose and record experimental pop music), but for my community-service component, I decided to put on a multi-media show involving my music backed up by a slide show of my paintings. It was a big ME-ME-ME-fest, and I was nervous about how it would be received, but I remember that when it was over, people gave me a big, warm ovation. It was really gratifying.

What else do you do besides paint?
As stated before, I also do music (see both for fun and for part of my living. I am also very interested in fitness and have participated in a lot of triathlons and am married to a former professional triathlete. I have been teaching yoga for 14 years. I found that exercise tames my rampant depression, which ruled my early adult life. Interestingly, the less depressed I am, the less creative I am. My productivity is higher, though. Go figure! Another activity that rules my life is cooking, since I try to eat as healthily as possible. I recently thought about opening a restaurant with fine cuisine that isn't fattening and greasy.

I love "Dislocated Man". Can you give a little background on this piece?
I went through a big stint of marbleizing paper. At the same time, I was painting this man on paper, which is a little unusual since I mostly work on canvas panel. This picture was giving me a lot of trouble because it wasn't working. Out of frustration/desperation, I cut the man out and decided I liked the negative shape it created, and I tore up the other parts of the paper, and I put the marbleized paper behind it and liked the way the colors popped out when I did that. The great thing about paper is that you can tear it up if you dislike the painting, and it often really improves the picture! Torn edges make such a nice line sometimes.

Tell us about some of your accomplishments?
In no particular order: I graduated from Harvard in 1988, which just about killed me because I contemplated suicide every day that I was there, practically! I hated it, so I consider it a huge accomplishment that I gutted it out and "got my paper and I was free" (as the Indigo Girls say).
I curated a show for the first time in 2007 for the Brickbottom Gallery, called "FIRE", and it was jam-packed with fantastic art, and there were fire dancers at the opening, and an amazing installation by the artist Empire SNAFU and photographer Paul Weiner. It was a real happening. In 2008 I wrote and was awarded a Massachusetts Cultural Council grant on behalf of the Brickbottom Artists Association.
I recently wrote and was awarded a grant from the local cultural council to stage an early sacred music performance at the next show I will be curating, in December 2009, called "HOLY", also in the Brickbottom Gallery.

Who would you say has been the biggest influence in your style of painting?
It tends to change as I go through phases. As stated above, right now I love medieval art. I don't know the names of the artists, but the ones that look a bit naive and cartoonish are my favorites. I think that must hearken back to the comic books of my childhood.

What are 2 of your favorite pieces?
That's too hard of a question to answer! A recent fave is this Hans Holbein the Younger portrait of King Henry VIII:

and this Holbein portrait of Erasmus:

Both of these images were used on publicity posters for my last vocal group, Passio.
Who is your favorite artist?
That also is a hard question to answer. Recent faves include Holbein (obvious from my answer to your last question), Hieronymus Bosch, Johannes Vermeer and Hans Memling. Loving them is making it hard for me to paint, though, because I quail in the face of their magnificence.
Be sure to check out her gallery at