I discovered Sylvia Ji when I was working on my Masters Essay in 2009 and have been fascinated by her work ever since. The expressions she creates in her portraits are realistic and amazing. The viewer is drawn in to the painting by the subject's gaze. The use of bold colors and this gaze are what draw the viewer into the painting.
The series that most interests me are her paintings of gypsies with faces painted like sugar skulls or Mexican death masks. In this series the women are depicted with flowing hair or messy up dos and make up reminiscent of sugar skulls. There are traditional roses that are often seen surrounding sugar skulls, but she puts a twist on them by giving each girl a viscous, haunting look. They are all haunting beauties.
Several of these gypsy-like women with sugar skull make up are dressed like the Virgin of Guadalupe. This gives the painting power, because of the strength the Virgin of Guadalupe holds, but it also gives Guadalupe the hard stare and haunting presence that the other paintings posses. The Virgin of Guadalupe in these paintings becomes the haunting beauty. She haunts all that view her and all that believe in her.
Paintings by Sylvia Ji- Virgen de Guadalupe