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Karunam (Empathy)

Navarasam series (Charcoal pencil on sepia toned A3 format paper)

I have come to believe that the constant reality of being human is trenched in sadness and therefore empathy. It’s our coping mechanism to empathize- with the pained, the victimised, the weakened, the haunted, with ourselves. The most isolating, yet unifying aspect of humanity.

The Ebola outbreak of 2014 was undeniably deadly which Etienne Ounamano lost his baby to, in the village of Meliandou, Guinea. I don’t know what’s more horrendous- the painful death of his baby or learning that it was the patient zero? What is he left with now but Karuna to himself and for the withered souls around him?

A charcoal portrait inspired from the Pulitzer winning work of Daniel Berehulak in 2015, for covering the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, 2014. No other portrait that I’ve sketched has haunted me like this one, the darkness engulfing him from all sides and within, yet with an undying sense of tranquility and empathy laden on his face.

See behind the scenes video here.

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