The provocative nature of Lim Qi Xuan’s art begs a reaction. The Singaporean artist makes quirky mini sculptures of things like tiny baby heads packed tightly into a sardine tin or anatomically-accurate hearts tucked inside clam shells. By subverting everyday objects with a touch of horror, she has found her signature. “My works have always been about finding the balance between sweetness and horror, and for me, these little baby heads help me achieve that. When we look at these little figures, they tend to make you feel protective of them, but you also feel a little repulsed because of the context in which they were placed,” says Lim.
Lim, who calls herself an accidental sculptor, prefers to jump right into improvising her 3D creations once an idea has popped into her head. “I like to work with objects that are familiar to people, so there will be an element of surprise when these objects become something else. This is why I work with a lot of readymades and everyday imagery. When I was working on my first complete series, ‘SweetTooth,’ I worked with sweets and pastries because they are things that people often find desirable, and I thought it would be fun to turn this familiarity and sweetness into something strange and unexpected,” says Lim.
While she knows her sculptures don’t always appeal to everyone, the fact that they can incite a reaction is enough. “It is not difficult to find people who dislike what I do because [the work] can be quite discomfiting. People just have different thresholds for things that are visceral or weird. There is a really good quote by Mexican poet, Cesar A. Cruz, where he says ‘Art should comfort the disturbed, and disturb the comfortable.’ I think if people feel uncomfortable with my art, it says more about them, than me,” says Lim. A quick glance at her Instagram account (@qimmyshimmy) reveals a mix of both appreciative comments on her art as well as genuinely outraged ones.
While at first it may seem difficult to translate her work from Instagram (where Lim has more than 180,000 followers) to the art world, the fact is she prefers exhibiting and selling her pieces through the galleries she works with. “I used to be afraid that my art would not hold enough presence to fill up a gallery, because of how small the pieces are, but having worked with experienced curators, I learnt that the scale of the work is not usually a problem if the set-up is done with care,” says Lim. While she prefers travelling to her shows — she has a few group shows lined up in London and Rome this year and hopes to hold a solo show in Portland, Oregon in late 2020 — the coronavirus may have put a dampener on that. “It is always fun seeing how people react to my work for the first time, and meeting people who appreciate what I do. That is why I usually try to fly to my show openings, but it is tricky now due to the epidemic. I hope [everything] will get better soon,” says Lim.
Subscribe to our newsletter