Raina Kim Li
“For me, art is a part of existing...It is a place of freedom, reflection and expression where I can process life as it is.”
How does art enrich your life?
For me, art is a part of existing. I tend to build up this restless energy when I go for long stretches without creating anything. An analogy could be like exercise, the body can get physically uncomfortable, when it doesn't get the blood circulating, likewise art, when one is not creating. On top of that, art gives me a space of my own that is separate from the world. It is a place of freedom, reflection and expression where I can process life as it is. It is not really an escape either, but an intersection between the internal and the external world. I find that it has a slow transformative power in my thinking.
Please share on your learning experience and what you like about My Art Space.
I've had no formal art education, being trained in architecture. Thus, making and thinking in abstract has always come naturally to me, while figurative art has been an area that I've always desired to delve into but didn't quite have the know-how. My Art Space helped me take the bull by the horns, so to speak, and now I feel much more equipped to explore figurative works on my own. I really have Chankerk and Wen Shan to thank, helping me 'see' better when it comes to making figurative works.
What's your favourite artwork?
Of my own, I always have a few favourite artworks like the ones of my sons and the simple big piece, hanging over my sofa. Of those done by other artists whom I admire, they are always in rotation, depending on the season in life. Right now, I love the works of Francesco Clemente, Matisse, Cy Twombly, Mark Rothko, Gerhard Ritcher and Wu Guanzhong.
What are you trying to communicate with your art?
With my abstract works, I am always wrestling (in a fun way) with colour and texture- because I am experiencing the materiality of the medium as I create and I want that momentary experience of materiality to surface with the viewer. There is a visceral, tactile quality that is quite consuming, larger than the sum of its parts that abstraction offers. I very much like playing with that.
I've also started on figurative painting, and that is in a completely different direction. I use figuration to deal with nostalgia, childhood and family. As a mother of 2 young children, I find that so much of my own childhood is surfacing all the time and it intersects with the new experiences I create with my sons There's such a strong desire to hold on to their childhood, which we know is a futile but common endeavour. So, I use figuration as a device to try and concretize something that cannot be materialized- feelings and memories that only exist in a very personal space. We all store up these 'treasures' in our heart, powerful, shifting and immaterial experiences that become the bedrock of who a person is.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given about creating art?
You have to keep at it, and be faithful about it. Practise as much as you can, whether you feel the inspiration or if it is a drag. Then when that moment of breakthrough comes, you will be ready to take it to the next level. I have a musician friend that told me that in school, about his own music. I like that it challenges the preconception that artists should only paint when they feel inspired. My husband lives by that too, he always encourages me, even when I am not in the 'correct' head-space to create. Make bad art until you make good art. It's better than not making anything.
Tell us what plans you have for your art future?
I have started Gentle Beast Art Club, a creative space which functions as a collective studio at times, or an art charity stronghold at others. Right now, I am using this space to host charity art exhibitions where the proceeds go to help Tekanpur, a village in Nepal, that was badly affected by the 2015 earthquake. We are helping to finish a school there right now and I find it very meaningful and humbling to use art to help rebuild lives. In the mid-term future, I hope to get more time to paint, and perhaps participate in an exhibition like the Affordable Art Fair next year.
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