Thursday, July 21, 2011

No.25 Series I-VI

No.25 Series I-VI | Mixed media on watercolor paper | 8.5 by 5.5 in 

The room is dark, the air musky. She stands by the window, picks up a cigarette and lights it. For a few seconds, the empty walls of the room is licked with the sudden wavering dances from the flame. And then nothing. She inhales the smoke deeply, looks out into the gulf of darkness and tries to make out the silhouettes of the trees and apartment buildings made prominent from several street lights. There is a sudden flickering of light from the opposite window. Her heart skips a beat. Instantly she chucks her right hand behind the curtains of her window and watches as the fluorescent ceiling lights come to life. It’s Mr Zhang, a client who visits her every now and then for suit alterations. She cannot recall the last time he has visited but she remembers his strong broad shoulders and the faint smell of nicotine in his hair as she takes his measurements. She takes one last deep puff and feels the burning down her throat as she draws the curtains shut. Switching on the lamp by the dressing table, she carefully caresses the collection of mannequin hands lying on the dresser with her fingertips; like how any pianist would fondly touch the keys of a piano. She reaches the ‘last note’ and decides on no.25, elegantly curved with red painted nails. The rubber vinyl-like hand meets her left fingers and then snaps tightly onto her right wrist. It almost makes her imperfection non existent. The room is dim, the air stale. She lies on the bed, draws her left fingers to her nose and inhales. For a moment, she thinks about his broad shoulders and reenacts the smell of the faint nicotine in his hair. But then all is forgotten as no.25 ascends.

No.25 is a body of illustrative works based on Wong Kar-Wai's short film The Hand. The illustrations correlates to a specific chosen dialogue from the film, emphasizes on the key characters from the film, but adds a different take on the original story.

Movie still from The Hand

Selected dialogue from The Hand
Hua: And do you remember my hand?
Zhang: Yes I do.
Hua: You must have hated me that day.
Zhang: No I didn’t. I want to thank you. If it hadn't been for your hand, I wouldn't have become a tailor.
Hua: Forget about me. Go love some other woman and be good to her. Come closer. You have always been so good to me and I have never repaid you. I am afraid I won’t have the chance. I have lost everything. I used to have this body, but it is no good anymore. All that is left of it is this pair of hands. You don’t mind do you?

The Hand - Movie Synopsis:

Stars Gong Li (Miss Hua) as a 1960s high-end call girl in an impossible love affair with her tailor Zhang (Chang Chen). At their first meeting, she immediately worms her way into his consciousness with her forceful, erotically charged presence, plus a particular favor she proffers via her extraordinarily skilled right hand. The reason for her charity: Zhang is a talented tailor who has yet to know a woman’s touch. If he’s going to be servicing woman with his skills, he better be okay with touching them. It’s questionable if Hua’s sexual schooling makes Zhang a better tailor, but from then on he’s hooked - by her. The years pass, Hua’s clients change, and all the while Zhang longs for Hua’s touch once more. When he has time, he makes her clothes.

With The Hand, Wong Kar-Wai seems to be heading towards repressed longing in intimate, confined spaces. Wong Kar-Wai constructs a simple story with moments of truly gorgeous emotion, delivering on the promise of eroticism in a reserved, but astoundingly effective way. Intimate physical contact is given almost palpable erotic charge; at one point, Zhang measures Hua’s body with his hands instead of a measuring tape, and the years of desperate longing between the characters practically bleeds from the screen. The actual (fully-clothed) sex in the film might seem a bit too lurid for some, but Wong manages to make it affecting in its utter sadness.