Over the past two years, life has changed for everyone in the world. Taiwanese artist Will Yu 尤瑋毅 reflects on the pandemic's impact in his poignant painting WE (2021). It depicts a young girl with braided hair putting on and removing her mask, highlighting some of the changes we have had to make to cope with the world health crisis.
The adolescent figure is placed before a bright blue map of the world, her head centered between Asia and the Americas. Yu's choice of aqua blue echos the color of the surgical mask that is covering part of the girl's face, imbuing the setting with a clinical atmosphere. While the subject's face—looking at something in the distance—is carefully modeled, her right hand is painted in two spots on the canvas: in the left corner, and over her pink shirt on the right side. Between these two sections, Yu creates a long sweeping action which in turn conveys the sense of motion of the girl moving her mask on and off her face. Likewise, the mask itself is repeated in several different locations on her face and to the side, united only by the white elastic looped around the model's ear.
“We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope,” Yu says in an Instagram post of this painting. “To the world, you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world. Dream what you want to dream; go where you want to go; be what you want to be, because you have only one life and one chance to do all the things you want to do.”
WE is part of the artist's series Finalism, which is based on the act of “leaving” and finding our potential. Another painting that focuses on the struggles of the pandemic is Transform (2021). Featuring another young female figure putting on and taking off her mask, this piece also includes the English word “PROSPECT” floating in the cerulean background. Together these pieces appear to comment on the changes that everyone had to make to combat the spread of the disease and keep people safe.
Scroll down to see close-up views of these paintings, and follow Yu on Instagram to keep up to date with what he's up to next.