A Kiss For Mother by Yin-Rei Hicks.

THE PLATE Slowly she lowers her head, the long neck arching gracefullY, until both animals are nose to nose—a gesture typical of giraffes, which Yin-Rei inter¬prets as a kiss. Whatever meaning one ascribes to this tender nuzzling, it reflects the gentle, affec¬tionate nature of these unlikely creatures. Even rival males who fight during the mating season rarely inflict a deliberately serious injury on one another, and the defeated males are allowed to graze peacefully with the herd rather than being driven out by the victors.

Yin-Rei paints a section of the vast Serengeti National Park of north central Tanzania, East Africa, where herds of giraffes live freely and unmolested, protected by strict laws against hunting and poaching. Sharing this pristine wilderness, embracing some 5,000 square miles of land, with more than thirty-five other species of animals and birds, the giraffe is part of nature's ecological balance.

If there is a single element of Yin-Rei's work which most obviously stands out, it is her superb draftsmanship. And yet she paints in watercolor, a medium regarded by many artists and art experts as the most difficult to control. The very nature of the paint itself and the paper ground permit no errors, no misapplications of the brush—nothing can be erased and no corrective over-painting is possible with this translucent medium. In "A Kiss For Mother," we see Yin-Rei at the peak of her talents. The main figures are set against a delib¬erately muted background of soft primary and secondary colors—blue, greens, yellows. Moun¬tains, trees, tall grass, a random giraffe or two far in the background, are barely suggested with subtle color and line and a flat rendering of volume. In the foreground the two giraffes are de¬picted with stunning fidelity to anatomy and col¬oration. With deceptive ease, Yin-Rei accom¬plishes the principal objectives of wildlife paint¬ing: she depicts the animals with complete accuracy, in their natural habitat, and involved in some typical activity. In this respect, her work is reminiscent of the naturalist painter John James Audubon. The style is different, but the effect of close observation is identical.

Yin-Rei is nevertheless a unique painter of the wildlife scene. Trained in the Orient, and with an Oriental sensibility, Yin-Rei's art reflects some 4,000 years of Chinese aesthetic and philo-sophical tradition. The ancient masters of Chinese painting affirmed that their art was an ex-tension of their lives, and that the act of painting itself is an act of reverence for all of nature and life. "A Kiss For Mother," therefore—and indeed the entire Signs of Love series—suggests several simultaneous meanings: the love of animal mothers for their young; the love of the painter for her subject matter; and finally, it suggests the love and reverence in the act of artistic creation itself.


A Kiss For Mother by Yin-Rei Hicks.
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