Norris Yim | Zhang Gallery Zhang Gallery | Discover & Buy Curated Art Online

Norris Yim : Portfolio

Let’s start from the beginning: how did you become an artist? 

Well the making of art has always been something that I’ve done, ever since I was a kid. I’ve always enjoyed it, even as young as 5 or 6, and when I was in high school I took some art electives where we did paintings and sculptures. 

Interestingly enough I don’t connect these early inclinations to my current pursuit of art: the joy back then came simply from the technical aspects of art, from being able to draw something realistically or to visualize the effects of different colors. The art education I had really enforced this kind of technical pursuit too, and I guess that lays a good foundation for me to discover the true joy in artmaking that I experience today. 

And what is this shift for you?

To me, the true joy of being an artist is the experiencing the emotional inspiration that comes with engaging with art, and the creative inspiration that comes with the conceptualizing and executing of an artwork. This kind of joy is very different than what I grew up with, in terms of the technical joys. Now it is almost all about joys that comes from the emotion, the passion, the self discovery aspects of artmaking. I paint at night because I don’t want to be influenced by what’s going on in the “real world”. I like to just be in my own headspace when I make work.

So why does art inspire you?

Art to me is a language, and the dialogue that art creates and the way that this dialogue reflected and influenced the evolution of human society is something incredibly interesting to me. I would say this aspect of art history is actually what inspires me the most; this ability of great artists to spark dialogues in society.

Who are your main influences from art history?

I’m influenced by many people from art history. Willem de Kooning, Pablo Picasso, Vincent Van Gough. To me these masters who shaped the post-impressionist aesthetic are my heroes because they were the ones who made art what it is today. To have art that stimulates the mind and not just the eyes. To have the making of art be about freedom of expression rather than a pursuit of excellence in traditional techniques.

Are there any particular themes that you’re pursue to express through your art?

I’ve been working on a series of portraits lately. To me, portraiture is a reflection of the state of life of its subject matter, rather than necessarily just the physical realism that can be captured in another medium like photography. 

The reason I blur all facial expressions in my portraits is because this is the way I feel people live. We really don’t know what other people are thinking or feeling, and oftentimes in fact, we really don’t even know how we ourselves are thinking or feeling. Facial expressions is the default reference point we use in society to gauge others and interact, but I just find this whole process to be phony and ridiculous. I think a lot about life and the state of living, and I think a lot about art history. It’s not necessarily that I hope to become famous and influential in art history, but I do hope that my art is able to inspire other people and have some sort of impact on their lives.

So let’s end with some details: how do you make your art, give us a sneak peek behind the scenes. 

The one thing that I do that’s perhaps a little bit unique, is that I when I paint I rarely actually use a brush. I mix paints of different colors and I use my hands to shape the works. I pour the acrylics onto the canvas and mix the colors right on the canvas using my hands. For certain layers I would hand the painting on the wall and let gravity do what it may, sometimes even adding some water to the colors to make it less viscous. 

To me, the gestural and expressive aspects of a work is more important than the intricacies of any “brushstrokes”. I feel that making the painting literally with my hands feels much more intimate and connected.

The Self Portrait Series

The Someone Series

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