White-washing of Asian characters has been going on in the film industry since the beginning of film (the ‘Thai’ monarch in The King and I, the ‘Japanese’ landlord in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the ‘quarter Chinese, quarter-Hawaiian’ character played by Emma Stone in Aloha, the recent casting of Tilda Swinton as an old ‘Tibetan’ monk in Marvel’s Doctor Strange - and many many more, too many to list) and I could go on for hours about how messed up the industry is. But instead I’m going to tell you about this wonderful guy who has done the opposite: he’s yellow-washed famous white characters from art history, replacing them with Asians.
It was with such joy that I happened upon the work of Chinese artist Yin Xin, whose work ‘After Masters’ is a collection of famous European paintings reimagined with East Asian faces. Boticelli’s Venus is now a beautiful Asian lady, Manet’s Dejeuner Sur L’herbe is enjoyed by two gentlemen with long imperial plaits and a naked Chinese woman with a bamboo tiffin box of - presumably - dim sum instead of the picnic basket, Da Vinci’s Last Supper is peopled by Chinese dudes and his Mona Lisa has distinctly almond-shaped eyes. I don’t know what Yin Xin’s message is with these paintings but I like to think he’s doing his bit to redress the ethnic balance.
His Venus painting will be at the V&A in March, as part of their Boticelli Reimagined exhibition, so you can see it in all its glory then.