Painting Series: Masquerade
A R T I S T ‘ S S T A T E M E N T
“M a s q u e r a d e”
K r i s t i a n a C h a n
The mask is a façade; a veneered version of the self that is easy to look at, yet unsettling in its lacquered perfection. It is unfeeling and impermeable, shrouding the wearer’s interior (mind, soul, psyche) beneath the exterior. Why this human tendency to hide our humanity—our pain and insecurity, confusion and strife? What is it that tells us to present only the colorful, flawless, successful versions of ourselves? These worlds, the interior and exterior, should not be separated. All aspects of us are meant to coexist—to divide one’s identity into a presentation and a reservation is to divide the Self, and to forsake the possibility of any authentic integration.This mental division causes a fissure, a psychological disparity between the need for real connection with others and the protective action of self-defense, hiding one’s human vulnerability and closing off channels of open communication. Walls are built, windows are shuttered, and we box ourselves safely away from one another, unaware of the consequences of this self-inflicted disconnection.
With these paintings, I recognize that we all have a tendency to masquerade. The masks I paint are sinister and imposing; they are threatening forms that warn against the idea of exposing that which they conceal below. To be vulnerable is often equated with being weak, but I argue the opposite. My process invokes a gradual deterioration of these seemingly infallible masks. I layered images of masks, sometimes faces, on top of each other. Sometimes I would allow watered-down paint to drip and dribble down my canvas, breaking away from controlled brushwork that retained the forms of the masks. I would deconstruct the masks further with my palette knife, scraping through layers of paint to reveal what lay underneath, I would then “re-discover” certain parts of the masks selectively re-painting alterations on top, creating an ambiguous distortion of the interior and exterior realities. The gestural paintings are abstracted, emotional versions of the masks, pictures of my personal interior world freely expressed, without pretense, fear, or reservation.
In the process of creating these works, I discovered a motif in the shape of the eyehole, as it acts as a passage between the interior and the exterior. These voids become critically important to the works, acting as portals between the wearer and the viewer. This creates a place in which the viewer can easily exist in both realms simultaneously, a place that, perhaps, we should choose to remain in.