Norris Yim: Color as An Emotion Diary
Norris Yim, a Hong Kong-based portraitist, uses his intuition to visually portray moods and emotions. To him, art is a medium of transformation: colors and abstract forms let him express his insights about life and society into “visual poetry.” Yim is the creator of one of our most stunning pieces available at launch: Him, an abstract and unique take on the Christian son of God.
[Note: The interview below contains minor edits for clarity and brevity.]
Tell us about who you are. How did art come into your life?
I am Norris Yim, a self-taught painter who loves creative design & painting. Art is something I was born fond of, and I’ve loved drawing and making sculptures to play with ever since I was in kindergarten. I just loved making art and I wanted to continue making art growing up.
What does the creation process look like for you? How do you feel while you’re creating a piece, and after a piece is complete?
I use big brush strokes to create a raw and emotionally charged image, with heavy color experimentation and texture to enhance the abstract form of the portrait. I would consider the colors more than the forms—I look for new combinations as if it were an experiment.
I feel excited when I use my energy to look for ways on how to cook the colors together. And I feel happy when I’ve dug a new combination of colors.
Who are your influences?
Vincent Van Gogh & Willem de Kooning! They give me so much inspiration in portraying power and discretion in art.
You obviously lean towards portraits and you mentioned in your site that you find creative inspiration through “observation of others.” In what ways do you find people fascinating?
That’s my concept in painting a portrait with these abstract forms. [I want] to ingratiate my ideas about capitalism and hypocritical living—people burying their original appearances to survive; new faces replacing old ones; even using makeup becomes [a process of] self-forgetting. It’s filled with hypocrisy and fear of life.
Simply put, people around me look as if they’re without souls, squeezed dry by the city. This has spawned a series of abstract portraits that express my pity and sadness towards society.
You also said that art is a way for you to “seek your own spiritual satisfaction.” What is your relationship with spirituality?
It’s my way to understand what life is, who I am, and why I’m here.
What do you enjoy most about abstract art? How does it allow you to express more creatively, compared to other art styles?
Abstract expressionism is my favorite way to study [art], and I love combining [the principles of] portrait-painting and abstraction. Portrait painting limits shapes, shadows, and details, but abstraction is unlimited. And I’m always looking for the possibility of colors and the innovation in combining. I love contrasting these colors to find balance, even though I’ve already used so many of them. The colors [in my paintings] seem to be an “emotion diary.”
You mentioned in your site that you “view people through color” and how looks are not the most important and distinguishing features about a person. Why do you choose to emphasize colors instead of shapes or forms?
Because shapes and forms are standardized already, you would know what they are. But color, actually, is unlimited. The colours we see are usually incomplete—there are many colors that the world has not seen, or is not prepared to see or understand.
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