Written By Simran Birk
This month's exhibition at Twist Gallery, Inner Landscapes, Arisings from the Space of Being, features the extraordinary work of Kim Puil. Half way into the show, Kim’s work has met many positive reviews. Each piece is a big, bold and colorful collage that has its own backstory. We sat down with Kim to gain some perspective on how she was able to create such magnificent pieces.
I understand that you started off as a dancer, was art something you’ve always been interested in? or did you find it as another medium that you could express yourself?
I have always been interested in art and cannot imagine a world without it. I had the privilege of being a young artist in a very exciting time in the art world. The 70’s were bristling with artists breaking boundaries and rules- and the independent art scene was thriving. The dance form that I trained in was technically very hard to do requiring discipline and commitment yet it was full of emotion, intensity and included the shadow side of the psyche. I have been drawing and creating alongside my dance since the beginning.
I understand Bon-Buddhism and yoga are important influences to this exhibition. Could you elaborate on this? Could you describe what Bon Buddhism is?
The dancer and yoga have always walked hand-in-hand so from a very young age I have practiced yoga and continue to do so. They are very complimentary to one another- i.e. movement and stillness etc. As a seeker in life, meditation was the next natural step and I even paused from my life to enter an ashram for a number of months to deepen my experience.
For me, meditation is not about “exiting” the reality of one’s life here on this planet, but it is to understand and work with the realities on all levels, of what it is to be a human. This includes all parts of us whether they are labelled “good” or “bad”, “pleasant” or “unpleasant”. I feel blessed that I was fortunate in my life to have an art form whose purpose of expression and content was to transmit these realities to the audience.
Buddhism has always peaked my curiosity because the teachings are about how to navigate the waters of this life. There is acknowledgement that suffering does exist but at the same time the idea is that we are responsible for and can mitigate how we cope with and react to the challenges that we come across.
Bon buddhism has its roots in the ancient shamans of Tibet and its culminates in the advanced meditative practices of Dzogchen- “The Great Perfection”. The Bon practices encompass the “whole” - our external world as seen in nature and the universe, and the internal world of our mind, emotions and thoughts.
I enrolled in a self-transformational program in the United States called The 3 Doors Academy that was started by my Bon teacher Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche . Over a period of 2 1/2 years one had to practice various meditation techniques, do group and personal retreats and reflect on challenges, resistance or blockages (a.k.a.”pain”) in three areas of our life: personal self, family and work/community. This culminated in 63 written “transformations” where over a period of time by working with formal and informal mediation practices we “dissolved” or experienced a “shift” in the nature of our “pain”.