I am a fear-driven person. I am always freaking out about the fact that we all have to die, so a lot of my paintings have to do with the frustration of being trapped in a mortal existence. The increasing aches and pains of aging underscore this dilemma to me every day, and make me seek out color and beauty, as well as the relief of laughter alongside the recognition of despair.
Lately I have been obsessed with Old Master paintings, so I’ll start on a painting with the intention of emulating Holbein or Vermeer, but then I get dissatisfied with the overall effect—“this looks like bad hotel art!”— and start adding three-dimensional items to the surface. Mosaic techniques satisfy my compulsion to always be busy. I try to pick activities that are fun, restful or refreshing, and that also satisfy my need to always be productive. I’m sure it comes from my driven, expectation-laden upbringing. Being Korean, my parents wanted me to be a Nobel-Prize-winning doctor. I graduated from Harvard, where I majored in studio art, so I’ve always felt sheepish that I wasn’t some successful superstar. I’ll never live up to their expectations, so I’m compensating by creating as fast as I can.
In my work I started off exploring the themes of dreams and illness. Then I was drawn to Medieval and Renaissance images of saints. I also like playing with scale– giant cat heads on human bodies, or tiny humans intermingled with items on a tabletop landscape. Basically, I just create paintings that I would want to see—that recognize the truth and folly of our existence, that are visually stimulating, perhaps gorgeous, frequently funny.
I live and work at the Brickbottom Artists Building in Somerville, MA.
Website and social media: www.paulinelim.net
Facebook: Pauline Lim – Artwork