(by Carlomar A. Daoana, Philippine Daily Inquirer: 26 June 2000)
More often than not, a poem evokes a place, or the memory of it. Images come together to bring into focus a space which marks a life's temporary passage. This is why the line that separates poetry and painting is primarily the medium, language vis-avis color.
A poet crossing to another craft, say painting, is not really an extra ordinary case but nonetheless, special. All art forms are held by a single stalk of beauty and meaningful grace and this has been proven true once more in an exhibit called "Imaginary Landscapes: A Solo Exhibit of New Oil Paintings" which formally opened last June 16 at the British Coucil Library.
Sponsored by the British Council and the Likhaan: UP Creative Writing Center, the exhibit features the landscape paintings of one of the country's ablest poets and fictionists, Jaime An Lim. The poet-artist holds a Ph.D in Comparative Literature from Indiana University and currently teaches at the MSU-Iligan Institute of Technology where he also serves as director of publication and information. His recent book is "Trios/Hedonicus," a collection of poetry and fiction published by the UP Press in 1998.
The opening exhibit was capped with poets Wendell Capili, Gemino Abad and Krip Yuson reading their poems about landscapes and the natural world.
In an interview with the Inquirer, An Lim explained the similarity of poetry and painting: "Many of the elements that can be found in painting are also found in poetry. It is important to have rhytm, repetition, a sense of form. These are the things you can find both in poetry and painting."
He said that one cannot help but be impressed by the landscape and the sky which invokes a "sense of the quiet."
In his "Imaginary Landscape" paintings, one can sense the tensions between fluidity (represented by the rivers and waterfalls) and solidity (represented by the mountains and landscapes), between transience and permanence. They are not mere carbon copies of the landscapes' physical reality but much more: a sense of definition of the spiritual running through the greens. This is grounded by colors dark and mysterious and with a mood solitary and distant. The poet-artist is an observer of a difficult world, full with the weight of silence and shadows.
His "Mountain Diptych" paintings, on the other hand, are subdued in blue, the color of dusk gathering. The mountains are sharp, angular, and singular, white horizontal lines running across them. One can sense in the paintings the influence of Mindanao weave, the colors varied and ornate.
The most visible stamp An Lim has left in his works is the harmonious balancing of the elemental and the accidental, the structured and the spontaneous. His landscapes tell us the beauty of the "here" where we wish to stay because "we have to."