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(Yonhap Interview) Art brings catharsis and tears -- of joy

Interviews 16:26 November 15, 2018

By Woo Jae-yeon

SEOUL, Nov. 15 (Yonhap) -- It looks like a swarm of fish, or a flower, or a water current. In the eye of the beholder, it might look like the flowing of blood vessels. Whatever one sees in Lim Mi-ryang's works, her paintings exude a powerful energy and display eerily familiar yet completely new scenes.

Lim didn't do fine art in the beginning. She was more involved in commercial art like designing logos, packaging and advertisements. It's been less than 10 years since she became serious and virtually locked herself in her studio, becoming "addicted" to painting.

"Painting is not part of my life. It is my whole life, my everyday ritual and the reason to live. I sometimes think that I was born to paint. I may sound selfish, but my work comes before my family," the 50-year-old artist said during an interview with Yonhap News Agency in her studio in southern Seoul on Thursday.

This image, provided by Lim Mi-ryang on Nov. 15, 2018, shows her painting "The Performance of Wind #117." (Yonhap)

When she mentioned how painting has become everything to her, she choked with emotion and shed tears. Her passion for art seems overwhelming.

"I am happy. I need nothing. My heart is full and complete just the way it is. What else do I need when I can paint?"

The inspiration for her signature painting series, "The Performance of Wind," came when she was in hospital in her early 30s, receiving IV injections.

"I liked the sensation of the medicine spreading over my whole body. I felt some kind of catharsis, pains being relieved. It was as if I became cleaner," she said. She wanted to express the sensation and joy on canvas.

"When I think about painting, something hot gets lumped in my throat. I become filled with uncontrollable joy. Painting comforts me and gives me energy."

This undated photo, provided by Lim Mi-ryang on Nov. 15, 2018, shows the artist posing for photos at her studio in Nonhyun-dong, southern Seoul. (Yonhap)
This image, provided by Lim Mi-ryang on Nov. 15, 2018, shows her painting "Going #8." (Yonhap)

While she was still largely unknown in the country's art scene, her works were discovered by overseas curators. Major British exhibitor the Saatchi Gallery has chosen her as one of Asia's most promising artists in its "Spotlight on Asia" section and prominently displayed her works on its website.

This year alone, she will have had two solo exhibitions -- one at Sejong Centre for the Performing Arts in August and another at Seoul Arts Center from Nov. 17-24.

As she becomes more immersed in painting, she feels that it is not her who paints, but her paintings that have a life of their own and complete themselves.

"My paintings don't turn out the way I intended. It is as if my hand has its own will and paints as it wishes. It is like the movement of the wind. Let's say, the wind is just borrowing my hand to paint," she said.

This image, provided by Lim Mi-ryang on Nov. 15, 2018, shows her painting "A Fairy of the Forest #02." (Yonhap)

These days, she is working to "paint less."

"I am afraid of becoming more skilled. I sometimes paint with my left hand, lights off or eyes closed. I try to go back to when I first started painting," she said, "Art doesn't need techniques but passion and sincerity."

The only thing she hopes for her art is that others can experience the joy, power and energy that she does while painting.

"As long as I paint, I won't feel lonely. Painting is my friend, play and alter ego.

This image, provided by Lim Mi-ryang on Nov. 15, 2018, shows a painting from her series "The Performance of Wind." (Yonhap)
This image, provided by Lim Mi-ryang on Nov. 15, 2018, shows her painting "The Performance of Wind #115." (Yonhap)

jaeyeon.woo@yna.co.kr
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