Looks are not the most important and distinguishing features in my art — which is perhaps to say, looks are not what’s important about a person. I view people through colour.
Hong Kong based artist Norris Yim approaches his work as a form self-representation and poetry. His personal observations, memories and imagination form the starting point for his vibrant paintings. The subjects of his work often remain anonymous, their faces obscured by powerful brushstrokes, as the artist says he ‘views people through color’ and uses the different pigments to express his own mood.
INTERVIEW WITH THE ARTIST
Q. Did you always want to become an artist?
A. I was just born with a love of making something, with any possible material. When I was younger, becoming an artist was never my focus. I just indulged myself, following my passion within my own world, always creating something. Painting is my main medium right now, but I only do it to express myself.
Q. A big part of your work consists of colourful portraits without distinguishing facial features - what does the omission or obscuring of the face mean to you? - Do you relate to this anonymity on a personal level?
A. The meaning behind the Nameless series, for me, is to paint an anonymous someone in the world and to feel time passing within an anonymous face. Colour is a mark of life, the face, in turn, represents chaos and pain. Here, a set of nameless figures, rendered in different styles, express the same underlying concept; We are one. Everyone is similar and connected to each other.
Q. You have stated that each work is a form of self representation, how does your own personality find its way into the visual aspects of your work?
A. Withdrawn, negative & calm are some of the main elements of my personality. My paintings represent these dark sides and are tinged with loneliness.
Q. Do the colours you render a subject in reflect their personality or rather your personal mood or a convergence of the two?
A. The portraits mostly reflect my own emotions, and my personal journey in experimenting with colour & texture.
Q. Does your personal state of mind generally have an impact on your work?
A. How society has changed over the last 2 years has certainly had an impact. The Nameless series is my way of reflecting on the situation. It’s about people without soul, truth, or dreams, living within an empty body. During this time, my colour palette turned from the embodiment of a certain darkness to happiness in order for me to stay more positive.
Q. Could you describe your artistic process?
A. To start, I set the background colour. Then, using a colour that either contrasts or approximates the background, I outline a portrait, layering the form with thick strokes of colour. Finally, using a cake tube, I enhance the top layer and apply the final touches to add unique characterizing elements to the work.
Q. You have recently ventured into still lifes, specifically floral arrangements. What prompted you to pursue this new direction?
A. I started to visit the natural world to influence my personal as well as the viewer’s emotions and to reduce the negative impact from social interactions. Deviating temporarily also prompted a different and new perspective on my Nameless series. Reducing repetitiveness results in a new way of creating for me, with a more positive outlook.
Q. What would you like your work to evoke?
I hope to let people know that everyone should follow their dreams and to get reacquainted with who they really are. I’d like them to follow their heart more than the rules society imposes on them.
Q. A lot of your pieces have a thick, textural, almost tactical quality to them, why do you choose to use the medium of paint in an almost three-dimensional manner?
A. I was inspired by past art exhibitions, seeing how thick textures showcase the power of the medium, rendering it a seemingly indestructible art form. Acrylic or oil are common media; I would love to add different powders to acrylic paint to transform the texture. Not altering the colour, but differentiating in texture making it look more firm, matte, or generally unexpected. My goal is to create artworks that breathe elegance and sophistication.
Q. You have stated that there is a spiritual quality to your work, could you elaborate on that?
A. Painting is a form of meditation for me, a tool to escape the real world. The process of creation is a way of forcing myself to self-communicate, always looking for ways to dig deeper and create better.
Q. Which other creatives do you admire?
A. Sculpture- and 3D digital artworks are awesome! I would love to explore these media in the future, to find a digital method to continue the nameless series.
Q. Could you describe your work in three words?
A. Solitude - Oozing - Disengagement