I don’t generally make personal anecdotes the focus of my blog posts. After all, this is “Book Bloggy Blogg,” not “The Real Lim Shady.”
But after having told these stories time and time again, I have decided that they must be immortalized on the internet for future generations to see and ponder.
A short intro to my family: we are crazy. Not, like, ghetto crazy with beatings and guns and drug use (except for certain members of our extended family. On my dad’s side. Of course). More like quirky, head-scratcher crazy. People who know me and my two sibs (sister ,Henee, and brother, Jeeho, whom I call “Hen” and “Hoj,” respectiviely) always say that we’re weird. But then they hear stories about my parents, and they go, “Ohhhh.”
Well, my dad’s been retired for almost ten years, now, and he’s been making good use of this time. When he’s not planning vacations with friends or cooking up business ideas, he’s painting.
Chang Kyun Lim, Artist. Oil on canvas. 24" x 30". 2010. Also, this isn't a portrait of my dad. It's a portrait of his friend, who looks a little like him and is also an artist.
My dad’s actually very good, technically speaking. His paintings are quite realistic, and his technique is excellent. It’s just that… well… his concepts aren’t exactly what most people would call art.
For years, he just did random landscapes and random still lifes — but of weird items, like a banana and an old, hollowed-out ostrich egg with a Bible stuck in a garish bowl that he picked up at some garage sale. Then, he started painting recreations of photographs from National Geographic. I don’t think he realized that that’s kind of like artistic plagiarism. He’s basically stealing the photographer’s artwork, right? I don’t think he acknowledges photography as an art form.
Well, just when I thought his concepts couldn’t get any weirder, he started taking art classes at the local community college. As it is, every wall in our house was plastered with his paintings. Now, they’re leaning up against all of our furniture, and they’re slowly filling up the room my sister just vacated.
And his take on his assignments was… well, interesting, to say the least. His first assignment was to create a work depicting all of the evil in the world. He got right to work, making me print out photographs of all kinds of random things. He also began clipping photographs from his old issues of National Geographic (his go-to for inspiration).
One day, he burst into my room excitedly. “Look at this!” he cried, shoving a page from his favorite magazine in my face.
I looked up from my work at the photograph he was waving. “What’s that? A frog?”
“Yeh, but look what he doing,” insisted my father, with barely-suppressed glee.
I peered closely at the picture. “What? He looks like he’s just sitting on a stick.”
“No, he pray! He pray!” shouted my father impatiently.
I looked again. Yes, his sticky, little fingers almost looked as though they were clasped… and his eyes were just about closed…. “I guess,” I shrugged.
Disgusted by my lack of enthusiasm, my father left my room as abruptly as he entered it.
A few days later, he returned to my room. “How you spell, ‘Frog Prayer?'” he inquired.
“Huh? You mean ‘A Frog’s Prayer,’ or just “Frog Prayer?'” I asked.
“Which one you think better? For my painting.”
“Um… I don’t know. ‘A Frog’s Prayer,’ I guess.”
He made me write it down on a piece of paper. I obliged him, and then forgot all about it.
Before I knew it, he had finished his work. He had connections with a Korean artists’ organization, and they arranged a gallery show in Whittier. He insisted that we all go. So, one day, my sister and I, with our friend Melanie in tow, went obediently to ooh and ahh over my father’s artwork.
When we arrived, I was astounded by the completed piece. In order to truly appreciate this significant work, I have to show it to you piece by piece. Remember, the assignment was to depict evil in the world today.
First, he starts off by depicting the world as the face of a watch. We are all living on borrowed time, people. Isn’t the detail incredible? Like I told you, his technique really is good. But as for concept… you’ll see in a minute.
We're all living on borrowed time.
And why are we all living on borrowed time? Because of all the evil in the world around us. Evil like:
War. War is bad, mmkay?
Evil like oil rigging.
Evil like Islam. Because Islam is totally evil, right?
Evil like Che Guevara. Apparently, Che Guevara was evil.
And who is this hurting? Who suffers because of all these terrible evils surrounding us?
As you can see, this tree frog is praying, pleading with God to rid the world of these evils so that he and his fellow frogs can live in peace. Isn’t this an exquisite moment to capture? Never mind that, in a painting, you could dress him as Martin Luther King, Jr., and make him recreate the “I Have a Dream Speech.”
Here’s the entire work for your perusal. Take a moment to drink it all in and bask in its profundity.
And the name of this deeply moving work of art? Surely, it must have a name as profound and mysterious as the work itself.
Are you ready for it?
Are you ready?
You’re sure you’re ready?
The work is entitled:
My dad must’ve lost the piece of paper that I wrote the title on. Oh, wells. When your art is this great, it speaks for itself.
And that’s not all, folks. This semester, he’s been taking a class on the human figure. That means that my house has been filled with sketches of naked people since January.
I totally edited clothes onto these paintings. This is a PG blog. It bothers me that this girl can find time to do her hair, but not to find a shirt.
My dad did eventually paint clothes onto this one, but, at first, I was like, "Who gardens naked?? You're wearing a hat for sun protection WHY??"
Well, about two months ago, my dad asked to borrow my camera. He gave it back to me with the brusque command to burn these pix to CD.
And a few months later, I began to see sketches of this morbidly obese woman lounging about.
I did you a huge favor by MS Painting some clothes on her. TRUST me.
I saw her in a few different incarnations and sizes. While it certainly wasn’t my favorite thing to see every time I got back from taking my dog for a walk, I didn’t think it was all that weird, except for the fact that she was huge and naked.
Then, my dad started painting her onto a big canvas.
For weeks, she sat there, gradually being painted in. But there was no background behind her.
I stopped wondering what the finished product would look like.
I eventually got used to the sight of her.
I never put two and two together. But there’s really no way I could have put two and two together in the particular way that it actually came together.
Then, one day, Kahlua and I returned from a walk to see this:
Did she just… eat a corpse?
God only knows what he’s going to call this one.