Henry Rasmussen’s The Beckomberga Mask series is comprised of over three dozen emotionally riveting paintings. The imaginary mask is a constant theme in each of the works, speaking of the countless victims and victimizers in a world held hostage by crime and violence. Originally intended for use as patient restraint, the Beckomberga mask was later adopted by camp guards in Nazi Germany, where it was used as a bandage to contain bleeding after brutal beatings. In its ultimate and most insidious form, the mask was employed as a disguise by corporate executives, politicians, and religious leaders with the objective of obscuring their true identities and intentions. His altruism is clearly visible in his wildly passionate and spontaneous brushwork. Rasmussen takes this same approach in another series entitled Cry for me Argentina. Inspired by photographs Rasmussen made in 2009 of graffiti found on walls in Buenos Aires, the messages he chose as subjects—scribbled, scratched and spray-painted onto stucco facades and corrugated steel sidings—reflect the agony of the turbulent years surrounding Argentina’s Dirty War and represent the thousands that were killed, “disappeared”, or tortured. Rasmussen’s various works all share the common thread of the notion of justice: social, political, personal, and religious. His Faith in Question series addresses the modern incarnations of Catholicism’s seven deadly sins: famine, war, poverty, child pornography, fundamentalism, corruption, racism. The cross and double-cross reflect Rasmussen’s own experiences as a young man raised in a religious home where rigorous rules of piety were contradicted by abusive acts of hypocrisy. Far from autobiographical, Rasmussen’s atavistic and metaphorical works illustrate his choice to reject art created exclusively for the purpose of decoration in favor of art with the aim of expressing social concerns.
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