For a year and a half I worked with the UN Human Rights Office in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In a country with scant rule of law, soldiers commit crimes with impunity: stealing from, raping and killing civilians.
Soldiers receive little to no payment, and rarely see their families. They are ill-managed and lack equipment and housing. They use their AK47s to take what they can, knowing abuses will likely go unpunished.
The subject of this painting – a soldier – was older than the other solders who attended a UN human rights training I went to in 2011. He seemed shrunk, his uniform ill-fitting. His face no longer possessed the roundness of youthful health. The angles testament to his past. There was an air of fragility around him, yet he gazed straight at me as I took his photo.
I contrasted warm and cool colours and used light and shadow to reflect the contradictions he represented: armies are meant to protect; grandfathers be with their families; a state maintain legitimacy through territorial control and by ensuring rule of law; and the international community provide more than rhetoric and ideals.