Xian Lim has been in showbiz for a little over 10 years, and he’s now an established actor, TV host, and musician (while still playing professional basketball on the side).
The 29-year-old versatile performer top-billed the teleseryes Katorse (2009); My Binondo Girl (2011); Ina, Kapatid, Anak (2013); and The Story of Us (2016). He starred in the movies My Cactus Heart (2012), The Reunion (2012), Bakit Hindi Ka Crush ng Crush Mo (2013), Bride for Rent (2014), Miss Granny (2018), and Hanggang Kailan, which opened in cinemas just last February 6.
Xian as Macoy in The Story of Us (2016). Photo from ABS-CBN.
He has also released three studio albums, such as So It’s You (2012), XL2 (2014), and Key of X (2017), as well as headlined several concerts, including A Date with Xian (2016) and Songs in the Key of X (2017).
Xian during his concert A Date With Xian (2016). Photo from One Music PH.
But away from the limelight, Xian continues to shine in another artistic medium: the visual arts. He tells StarStudio.ph in a recent interview that he started painting when he was in high school.
His mom still keeps his early works, he says. Over the years, he nurtured and honed his talent and passion.
Xian posted this caption-less photo which is geolocated in Osaka, Japan. Photo from Instagram (@xianlimm).
Xian keeps a low profile as a visual artist, and opts to sign his works using the names Alexander Lim and XL, his full name being Alexander Xian Cruz Lim.
“Parang maybe it’s time to do exhibits but not really promote it in a commercial way,” he says. “It’s more of parang, ‘Ah, okay, I have an exhibit, if you guys see me, my show, then you guys see it. You guys know about it, then good.’”
An example of Xian's artwork. Photo courtesy of Xian Lim.
Xian knows exactly why he paints.
“It’s not a hobby,” he points out, clarifying other people’s misconceptions. “It’s something I always wanted to do. I’ve always been a fan of music and arts. ’Yun, more of doon ako nag-e-excel. Doon ako natutuwa.”
He remembers taking up art classes while he was growing up in the U.S.
“My whole high school year was art and band, even college,” he beams. “Hindi naman I took it so I can paint, hindi naman. Wala lang, I was just interested.”
Xian’s painting of the Philippine National Hero, Jose Rizal. Photo courtesy of Xian Lim.
“You find inspiration everywhere,” Xian points out, as he goes on sharing a little backstory of his works, like the “Rizal” painting that he’s posted on Instagram. “Parang all of a sudden, on impulse, this is what I wanted to paint. Like ’yung subject, wala siyang explanation, e."
He also mentions Damien Deroubaix, a German painter known for his openly expressionist and apocalyptic artworks, as his artistic influence and inspiration.
Another artwork by Xian. Photo courtesy of Xian Lim.
Artist Jason Montinola describes to StarStudio.ph Xian’s works.
“His paintings are openly expressionist, loose brushwork, a storehouse of chaotic stories,” Jason says. “An honest presentation of beauty beyond failure.”
Jason is considered by Xian as his best friend. The two artists enjoy going to the National Museum, and painting together.
Xian with Jason and his wife Ana during the couple’s wedding in 2018. Photo courtesy of Jason Montinola.
“We were introduced by our friend, BBC News anchor Mr. Rico Hizon, last 2015 at a coffee shop in BGC [Bonifacio Global City],” Jason tells us how he met Xian. “We already had a few group exhibitions before, local and international.”
Speaking of international exhibits, Xian has joined one in the Japanese city of Osaka. Locally, his works have been exhibited at the Pinto Art Museum, Secret Fresh, and the Art Fair, among other venues.
Tabon poster. Photo from Instagram (@xianlimm).
Apart from painting, Xian has also ventured into film direction. In August 2018, he was announced to be directing Tabon, an entry to the Cinemalaya 2019.
He also underwent a 15-week workshop under revered writer Ricky Lee, as part of Batch 17.
According to various reports, Xian’s directorial debut is touted to be a psychological thriller/horror about “a man whose belief is tested when suspects are accused of a crime they believed to have not committed.”
Meantime, Direk Xian is currently starring in a heartbreak movie with Louise De los Reyes, titled Hanggang Kailan.
2019 could probably be Xian’s best year yet, as an unrelenting artist—and we’re as X-cited as he is!