This week, we are going to talk about our artist He Kun’s latest ink painting series, titled “Under the Mask of Us”. This collection of work relates to the impact of the coronavirus on China and we are sharing as part of our ongoing project at present: “Art for Wuhan, China”.
1: “Under the Mask of Us”
Image: “We, They”, 33cm x 33cm, ink painting on Xuan paper
You can’t see full faces under the masks, only sadness, kindness, and confident eyes. Masks cover us, all of the beautiful faces; who are you, who is she? These are no longer important questions. These are the ordinary, normal people under the masks, those of us who have taken on the responsibility to save lives.
This is a group of portraits depicting medical staff specifically. The iInk paintings show us close-ups of people’s faces during this special period – people with masks. Masks are the only defence for them to fight this invisible virus; they know the risk is high, but they have chosen to help and save lives, despite whatever the cost may be to them.
In this painting from the series shown above, titled “We, They”, the strong black lines convey the contour of head and torso, the precise, free brushstrokes showing the artist’s confidence and how he incorporates the art of calligraphy into his painting. Through those strong outlines, he conveys the determination from our nurses and doctors. The changes in the tones of grey create beautiful texture in the hat, mask, and clothes. The background of each of these paintings is white, which symbolises that these medical professionals are our “White Angels”.
We always say that human eyes are the window to our soul; in each of He Kun’s portraits, the doctors and nurses wear a hat, mask, and hospital uniform. Only their eyes are naked in front of viewers. Can you see their sadness, kindness, hope, or hopelessness? Have they evoked your strongest emotion inside you? Have you felt that we are all connected, and are all experiencing this together?