September 2, 2019
It was a delight to realize that Asians are an essential feature of the gaming casino landscape and, for my purpose, subject matter for art. Saving face is of paramount importance to Asians. That fact makes painting portraits of them challenging. It is said nobody likes one’s own portrait; perhaps the opposite will prove true for portraits of Asians by a Western artist. The challenging fact is that Asians are born Poker players, able to conceal their true feelings by controlled facial expression. Being myself so direct as to lay my opinion on the table, I would quickly add that I have doubts about it. To be fair, we cannot assume that Asians are not just as expressive as any human being. Theirs is a different language of facial signs, as different as spoken Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese, or any far-Eastern language) is different from ours. What if Asians perceive us as Poker-faced? I can tell a little story about the candid reactions I got from natural Chinese-speakers when I first attempted to speak Chinese conversationally. A Chinese girlfriend disclosed to me that I sound like I am “talking baby talk” when I try to speak Chinese. The lesson is, never assume you are reading the “tells” correctly without checking your perceptions.