“Death of Innocents” by Callum Russell
I have long been an admirer of Chinese art, particularly the tradition of paper-cutting as it is my primary method of working. A couple of years ago I started researching and reading into the one child policy, into what had been going on, and what continues to happen in China. With these two interests combined I felt compelled to create a piece of work which would not only explore the theme but would also expose the injustice to an unintentionally ignorant Western audience. Using the language of traditional Chinese symbolism and technique I created a large scale red paper cutout depicting the struggle and injustices for chinese girls. The piece is called Death of the Innocents, a reference to the Rubens paintings that depict the biblical Massacre of the Innocents of Bethlehem, as related in the Gospel of Matthew. Using the dragon as the symbol for the male, and the phoenix for female, as well as the ideas of an unbalanced yin and yang, and the oppression of these girls I have created a piece which on first glance looks like a piece from the Chinese tradition of red papercuts, but under closer examination is revealed to be a critique of the outdated and unjust policy. What appear to be cherubs or angels in the background clouds are actually girls falling, the dragon and the phoenix are evolving from the umbilical cords of the central child figures - the dragons teeth latched onto the tail of the phoenix, and the simple but violent action of creating a piece of art by using a surgical scalpel to physically cut out pieces poignantly echoes the ‘cutting out’ of a generation of defenseless innocents.
I am a recently graduated illustrator from London England. I work primarily in papercut, drawing inspiration from the rich history of the craft and combining it with modern digital technologies. Visit my website to see more of my work.