“Harsh Reality Under A Lovely Disguise”
Yan Wei has always liked fairy tales. A lost child’s hopelessness masked by innocence evokes a world of contrasts and contradictions, she says on her site, Kokomoo.com.
Though her English is broken, her quill certainly cuts, transposing this “harsh reality under a lovely disguise” in starkly disturbing, Chinese ’80′s pop-inspired style. Including herself in a generation heavily influenced by manga/anime, it’s interesting to view Wei’s artwork as intermediary between modern animation and classic storytelling.
Taken under this context, the sex, tedium, angst, and whimsy her images are infused with offer a revelatory perspective on more than just a culture’s collective feeling of lack. Wei’s art represents a reclamation or modern resurgence of the archetypal symbolism that was so essential in unburdening children of those feelings of despair in a hopeless world. (It also helps me understand or at least approach anime with a deeper perspective.)
Of course, Wei takes it a step further in her own direction, for her subjects have also been unburdened of that masking innocence. They fluidly manifest the harshness smoldering beneath a carefree facade, as well as an integral, somehow preserving response to the travails that embroil them. Neither side is predominant; Wei’s universe includes them both. If anything, her work illustrates a duality of these supposed extremes, and encourages her audience to endeavour, with maturity and empowerment, the reconciling of the way things are and the way we wish they could be.