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Zhao Yangchen
Portrait #2: Coverup

11″ x 6″


Deepti Menon, Filmmaker & Animator

Deepti Menon
Filmmaker & Animator

Artist Statement
“I recently finished a final for the AS digital art programme, which this picture belongs to. Art has always been a crucial part of my life ever since I learned to drawing. However, in the spirit of never-ending knowledge, I picked up photography and Photoshop after years of painting, and it turned out to be rewarding.

This portrait represents, I believe, how we disguise ourselves on a daily basis. We get hurt, we tear, and then we dust ourselves up and put our smiles back on.

The reason I chose band aid to deliver this concept is because of its unique nature. It covers up wounds but it never helps you heal; as for the makeup, it represents the façade we use to perfect our appearances in order to face life. Art can be more expressive than any language, with some symbolism and a little creative manipulation.”

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Video Transcript

“Right off the bat, I’m so excited by your desire to experiment and try new things as an artist, which is just so important in pushing yourself. One area I think that you can push in this specific piece is perhaps how your concept works with your technique or the mediums you’re using. For example, in your artist statement, you talk a lot about disguise and that’s a big concept in this piece.

But, how could that really be pushed in the way you use the person that you’re photographing.  For example, how could their pose speak to the idea of disguise, maybe you could even be more liberal with the band-aids that are on them. Almost like they’re a mess.

Or like on gray area of photography is lighting and perhaps you could push lighting to create like deep shadows to almost hide the person. You’re doing such a great job of exploring mixed media and  being really bold as an artist so I would just say like great job and just keep pushing and experimenting more.”

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2 responses on "Zhao Yangchen"

  1. I love the idea of band-aids as a canvas for drawing! Make-up and its relationship to identity has been such a rich subject for artists (and photographers, in particular) for a long time, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it done quite like this, with this specific device.

    I agree with Deepti’s thoughts about pushing this further. I’d be excited to see you really go all out applying these band-aids to the portrait; not only to make the “mask” imagery more explicit, but also to give yourself even more room to draw, since you say that that is your primary talent. This is really the perfect project for someone who is just branching out into photography, since it allows you to take more of a mixed-media approach, and ease yourself in, that way… The very simple composition also matches the confrontational nature of what you’re trying to communicate — A really smart choice!

    I would of course also love to see you do more with photography in the future, but for now I think you should prioritize resolving your subject matter. Have fun making up your model, exploring different media and methods of drawing on the face and band-aids, and just stick with this dead-on composition, for now. Once you have that down, then you can push yourself to take more risks in the way you document the piece! Think about the pose of the figure, the lighting you use, and the way you compose the image.

    This is a great start, and a piece that would work tremendously well as a series. I’m especially excited about the narrative aspect of these two photos, so keep going! Make a dozen more!

  2. This piece just touches on what could be a very fertile area for you. Although these are portrait photographs, there is a sense of the temporal and performative.

    I wish I could see the process of you placing each band-aid on your face. I want to see the processes of hurting and healing. Band-aids are used to cover hurt up, yes, but I’m not sure they would qualify as a disguise, as much as a censor or symbol. When we see a band-aid on someone, we automatically assume they are hurt, or endured some medically invasive process. How does this symbolism affect your concept?

    Zhang Huan has a project called Family Tree where he had several calligraphers write things on his face the entire day until his head was entirely black with ink. In this way, his family history disguises his personal identity. His performances could be useful in your exploration on content.

    As far as the drawing on some of the band-aids goes, I think you could go a lot further into camouflaging them into your face. Right now the additions are distracting, and don’t read easily as facial features or makeup. It would be interesting to see the first image without the plain band-aids, and then the second image with you camouflaging all the band-aids as best you possibly can.

    You’re doing a great job trying new things, and the color contrast was a good decision. I’m excited to see where you take this next!

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