Guarding the Gate of Heavenly Peace - Art by Katharine Alecse
Guarding the Gate of Heavenly Peace, Art by Katharine Alecse printed on Giclée Hahnemühle German Etching.
Being of half-Chinese decent, it was important for me to visit China. I was particularly moved by Beijing, it's bustling streets and it's poorer areas where people were living with many generations of family in cramped quarters. During the day, they would spread out along the pavement with their babies and sell street food and whatever else they had. Despite my thinking that this way of life would be terribly oppressing, there was always a lot of smiling, a strong community atmosphere, and they were some of the kindest people I have ever met. There was this underlying difference in our cultures which I associated with the stories I've heard of my grandparents escaping the Communist, Cultural Revolution. I wanted with this painting to make a symbol of the China I have felt. With Mao looming in the background, Chinese uniforms gleaming, the impossible contortions and distortions that this super power inflicts on it's people, but more than that, the grace in which the people even at the bottom still thrive, and the enduring spirit that is gorgeous and attempting beauty in cooperation. I also love any reason for painting red. Although the bridge to The Gate of Heavenly Peace is not red, in the time of the revolution during important political events I've seen pictures of it paved in red carpet. This painting was painted very large so that the colour red would fill your eye-sight. My friend posed for both figures although she is not a contortionist, I used other references to find contortionist poses. The Gate of Heavenly Peace is at The Forbidden City.