除災招福 JO SAI SHO FUKU
(WARD OFF CALAMITIES, INVITE GOOD LUCK):
GODS AND YOKAI IN TIME OF PANDEMIC
Zhong Kui Catching Evils, 2020
Pigments, metal mud paint, gold mud paint on Japanese paper mounted on wood.
16.1 x 12.5 x 0.8 inches (41 x 31.8 x 2 cm)
FROM THE ARTIST:
Only science and medicine can battle against an invisible virus. Still, at this uncertain time of the COVID-19 pandemic I am more certain than ever that faith and art, hope, beauty, and happiness are all essential to a healthy heart and mind. While Amabie has its moment on media and social networks, I choose Zhong Kui as subject. Zong Kui is a ghost appeared on a tale from Tang Dynasty (618-907) in China. He is known for its brave image catching evil ghosts with a sword in his right hand. Copies of this image, believed to ward off evil and present diseases, have been popular in Japan since the ninth century. I painted a young, innocent Zong Kui catching a goblin. It’s up to Zong Kui now what to do with the goblin. As a virus has no mind to have intentions, it may be unfair to think of it as evil. In this complicated world, our goal should not simply oust the virous but also question how each of us should face such calamities and how we behave when society is shaken at its core. Humanity has a long history of battling against pandemics. We will win this battle at some point. I hope the victory arrives soon and wish safety for all of us.