The works in Roy Lichtenstein’s Brushstroke Faces series primarily contemplate the symbolic power of brushstrokes and their inherent art historical meaning. The series also revisits the artist’s brushwork experimentation from the mid-1960s andmocks the autographic mark-making of the abstract expressionists.
Lichtenstein exploits the abstract qualities of his own pictorial language in Mask. The expressive potential of the brushstroke becomes the tool, with which he explores the formal concerns of painting. In line with other works from the same series, like Green Face for instance, Lichtenstein appoints the brushstrokes as his main composition in this work.
As opposed to the pastel colour palette of the other prints in this series, Mask makes use of dark pigments. Similar to Blue Face, a black dotted patch constitutes the face of the figure. It alludes to the origins of the Brushstroke series, which were based on images derived from a comic book source. The outline of a mouth is marked in bright red, while the black and indigo smudges above it are indicative of eyes. As the ascending brushstrokes are intersected by upwards flowing ones, the work is imbued with an almost musical undertone.
The production of this print combined a number of different printing processes, including lithography, screen print and woodcut. Beeswax was employed for the lithographs in this series, as an alternative to printer’s ink. This in turn induced a polished surface texture once printed on the exquisite watercolour paper utilised by the Brushwork Faces series.