Masks are shells behind which we hide our vulnerabilities, keep sheltered, shielded from the piercing, relentless gazes of those around us. They are the brave faces we put on. We grow with our masks; they expand to accommodate us, and the growing pressures that come with time. Facing the seemingly insurmountable in life, these spaces we create, and the identities we foster behind, become our refuge.
Inspired by masks used by supporting actors in traditional East Asian theatre practices, the inhabitants of Mr. S’ world, each bearing their own mask, become stock characters in their own story. Made for the stage, where pretenses are the rule, Mr. S’ boyish figures sport their masks while roaming the grassy plains, alone, exposed to no one but themselves, and their fear of being seen, of being exposed for who we really are. The masks they don — animal, demon, and divine — are beastlike, monstrous, and fantastical, some even bearing the slightest semblance to themselves.
In his play of light and shadow, Mr. S casts his characters into the bright light of day. In a series of charcoal on paper works, they appear almost weightless, so close to dissipating into the background. As in the light, we play our performances, and disappear into the roles we assume. It is also in works such as Ruminate and Noh mask that Mr. S explores stark contrasts between who we are and what we let show. Traditionally made with small, indecipherable holes through which to look, Noh masks limit their wearer’s field of vision; behind these, however, pitch black, doe-eyes glimmer and beckon — the windows to the soul.
Invincible, made up of sketches, and hanging scrolls, that seem to correspond with one another, is a testament to Mr. S’ ardent experimentations in visual storytelling. While the painted scroll tells the narrative in its totality, its sketched counterpart appears almost unfinished, suggesting only the light stroke of the artist’s hand. Yet, it is instrumental in revealing the layer of vulnerability that lies within — tracing the artist’s own ruminations, his misgivings and his determination. Ever playful in his practice, Mr. S employs mediums and techniques that articulate the innocence, spontaneity, and abandon of childhood and youth.
notes by Gabrielle Gonzales
동아시아의 무대 실습에서 조연들이 착용하는 마스크로부터 영감을 받아, 미스터 S의 세계 주민들은 각자 마스크를 지참하여 각자 이야기 속의 등장인물이 됩니다. 연극을 위한 분장이 규칙이 되는 무대를 위해 제작되어, 보이시한 모습의 미스터 S 역시 잔디밭을 거닐 때, 홀로 있을 때, 바깥에 아무에게도 보이지 않을 때에도 마스크를 착용하며 보이는 것에 대한 공포, 진정 자신이 누구인지를 노출하는 것에 대한 공포를 가지고 있습니다. 그들이 착용한 마스크 — 동물, 악마 그리고 신 형상 — 는 짐승이나 괴물과 닮았으며, 환상적이고, 몇몇 것들은 그들 자신의 외관의 일부가 되기도 합니다.
스케치와 족자로 구성된 ‘무적’은 또 다른 그림과 부합하는 모습을 보이며, 미스터 S의 열정적인 실험을 시각적인 이야기로 보여주는 증거입니다. 매번 극마다 그는 결백함, 자발성, 유년기와 청년기의 포기를 피력하는 매체와 기술을 선보입니다.