A snow leopard and his frightened baby,
A superb elephant and a tiny mouse gazing back at him.
I am drawn to the ambiguity and fragility in our conception of strength. Who is strong? Who is vulnerable? It’s hard to say. The one who appears magnificent might be hiding illness, loneliness, fear. Or perhaps someone who is very successful today might lose everything tomorrow. I depicted for instance a big powerful lion teaching his curious, innocent cub. But one might wonder who is in the lead: the old lion soon to die, or the cub still weak but not for long?
Why depict animals?
Because their symbolism is fascinating. The owl is a symbol for wisdom, the turtle for longevity, the giraffe for leadership. And sometimes it’s across many cultures: the rooster
for example, is the French mascot, hinting at a sense of cultural pride. In China it is a symbol for prosperity and good fortune, along with depicting the five attributes of a good spouse: responsibility, fidelity, courage, kindness, and confidence. In Japan too, the rooster is a symbol of courage.
Why clothe animals with patterns?
The wallpapers of my childhood, which decorated every single wall with patterns and repetitions have largely influenced my artistic vocabulary. I was also inspired by colorful sweaters which were my favorite growing up. As a child I probably looked like one of these powerful animals, all dressed up and superb. From the outside I looked like I was thriving. But I was not – there was a lot more to my story.
Why strong animals?
I choose animals which strike me as particularly majestic or powerful, such as lions, peacocks, gorillas, and elephants. I want to emphasize their grandeur, dignity, and beauty, in all possible poses, such as a gorilla mom, whose beauty stems from the way she tries to protect her little one. Living in the Bay Area, I am struck by Steve Jobs who once said, “we’re all the same in front of sickness and death.” And even without sickness, the powerful and wealthy
are sometimes more lonely than the immigrants who at first, look like the little mouse in front of the elephant. This series is meant to question us about the way we look on the outside and what defines our true strength in the midst of vulnerability.