Better known by her moniker QimmyShimmy, Singaporean artist and designer Lim Qi Xuan is famous on Instagram for her morbidly fascinating sculptures of human flesh, baby faces and heads in pastel-toned photographs. Her average post receives over 5,000 likes, and she has close to 60,000 Instagram followers to date.
One particularly disturbing image shows a pile of tiny human hearts barely contained within a slice of pie pastry. Another photograph shows a pile of macaroons with baby faces placed in a dessert glass case.
In an email interview with Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore, Lim, 26, shared insights on her works. Lim shared that she was “fascinated with the way they look”, because the works “represent both life and death, so it has an ambiguity and an appearance that is both macabre and beautiful at the same time”.
“An example would be how some dolls look super lifelike (and) freak people out because they look real but at the same time they are non-living,” Lim said.
The artist did not expect her sculptures, which are created from polymer clay, to have such a strong following or response. Lim has been making her art for years now, but it was only in the recent months that it picked up, which she found “surprising, but very encouraging”.
“I think everyone has a strange side to them, and maybe my art speaks to that part of people,” Lim said.
The comments she has received for her work range from encouraging to downright harsh.
“Most comments are usually very sweet and encouraging, but there are also people who call me a psychopath or accuse me of spreading anti-abortion ideas. Of course that was never the intention of my work, so I usually just explain it to them,” Lim said.
Currently pursuing her Masters in Information Design in Design Academy Eindhoven in Netherlands, Lim’s works look hyperrealistic and surreal all at once. She typically places the tiny sculptures of human parts or babies next to commonly-seen everyday objects, making the image more striking to viewers.
She noted that people who see her work in real life find them more powerful. They also find the ‘body parts’ quite “icky”. “I think when they are viewed on Instagram, the impact is more subtle,” she said.
Lim stumbled into this practice completely by accident, having trained as a graphic designer and graduated from the School of Art, Design and Media (ADM) in Nanyang Technological University.
She said she discovered sculpting after doing a mentorship programme with Noise Singapore, during which she was under the guidance of Pann Lim, the designer and co-founder of Kinetic Singapore.
“I was working on a speculative science fiction project about genetically-modified animals,” Lim said. “Pann recommended that I push the fantasy and surrealism beyond a printed book. That was the first time I picked up sculpting and I never stopped.”
The edgy surrealist look to her photographs on Instagram is in part inspired by the many pop-surrealist artists she admired during her growing up years, such as Mark Ryden.
When asked whether she intends to continue creating this type of macabre human flesh-inspired work, Lim said she does not want to stay “trapped in making the exact same things”.
She added that she has different ideas in mind but they did not deviate too much from her style and fascinations with the flesh and human body.
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