One to Watch

Zin Lim

Zin Lim was born in Seoul, South Korea, and currently lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area, California. He received a BFA in Industrial Design from Hong Ik University, Seoul in 2000, as well as a BFA and MFA from the Academy of Art University, San Francisco in 2003 and 2006 respectively. He currently teaches at the Academy of Art University.

Zin’s oil paintings and charcoal drawings of primarily portraits, nude figurative studies, and landscapes collapse the line between representation and abstraction. Aided with a mastery of color and loose yet thick brushstrokes, he explores themes of representation and identity.

What are the major themes you pursue in your work?
I’ve been thinking that my old portrait paintings of people I know well, such as my family, friends or myself, realistically resemble the people in my works; the figures on the canvas though are somehow different from the people that I experience, touch and remember in real life. It’s almost like the split between what I see and who I know in an ID card photo. The process of a painting for me is the process of my continuous experience with the person that I paint. I leave the traces of my gaze, touch, and memory of people on the canvas, and believe that the canvases are close to my ‘reality’ of these people I know.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
No fun, no gain.

Prefer to work with music or in silence?
I always listen to music or podcasts when I work. Choice of the genre depends on the moment’s mood and beat. The music I regularly listen to are New Trolls’ Concerto Grosso album and 2NE1, because they are like my recent paintings and hybrid compositions.

If you could only have one piece of art in your life, what would it be? 
I admire many masters, especially Francis Bacon. But if I could only have one piece of art in my life, I would choose my current best painting, because it say lots about me.

Who are your favorite writers?
Two Korean writers, Rhyu Shi Min and Chin Jung Kwon. Their books and articles have been teaching me about life, and inspire me to be a realist.