Dynamic and skillfully executed, there is more than meets the eye in the figurative work of Chinese artist Mohan (默涵). His subjects are usually women, cast as little girls, brides and patriots, placed in idealized settings. We find them at home, cheering their comrades, or quietly contemplating their futures in moody landscapes of China. In recent works, they also venture to foreign cities like Paris. They are lit with the softness of Romanticism, with an attention to detail that borders hyperrealism.
“Paradise from the West” by Mohan, 2014
It’s a technique that Mohan sprinkles with subtle cultural symbols. For example, in some regions of China, traditional culture relates the wearing of pigtails to a girl’s marital status. When she marries, the two pigtails are replaced with a ponytail indicating her marriage. Mohan seems to carefully style his women in this regard. In “Paradise from the West”, a girl stands on a rooftop freeing her pigtail, while being tugged at by “the red string of fate” that ties couples together. This tension echoes the range of emotions felt by all of his subjects, who perpetually hope for a promising future.