Jeff Faerber’s Sensual Take on the Coronavirus
Marijn Kruijff
3 min

Jeff Faerber's Sensual Take on the Coronavirus

3 min

Challenging times are for artists what the Germans would call “gefundenes fressen”. From the seriously affected New York, the artist Jeff Faerber gives his own aesthetic interpretation on the current state of affairs.


The portrayed figures in his most recent work are adorned with traditional Japanese clothing and “alienesque” plague masks. The man wears a kabuto* helmet  and the woman an agebōshi (white paper hat). The man sports a tattoo of a coronavirus molecule on his right forearm and the woman’s lower legs are tattooed consecutively with a Tuskin raider** and an amusing reference to Hokusai The Great Wave.

In the images below you can explore besides his newly finished painting (Fig.4), also the preliminary stages of the work and read some insightful thoughts by the artist…


Notes from the artist:

“Well, here we all are. In quarantine or social distancing, or in lock-down, or shut down socially somehow. I’ve dealt with the anxiety of keeping my distance from people and trying to grocery shop and everything else one needs to survive…


Mask Fetish

I’ve thought about how one would date or socially interact with others romantically in this current environment. New York City (where I live) even provided very specific sexual health tips for safety during the pandemic. I picture people turning the fear, or isolation into some form of fetish with masks and embracing the danger of having sex. I’ve always loved the plague masks of Medieval times (Fig.3) so combining them with Shunga seemed perfect.

Fig.3. ‘Plague doctor outfit

sensual coronovirus

Fig.4. ‘Love in the time of COVID-19: the quarantine buddies lathered their hands long enough to sing George Michael’s “Father Figure” up to the second chorus, then they girded their faces to engage in a various assortment of intimate sexual acts.’ (April 2020)

George Michael

In America (and presumably elsewhere), there are all kinds of memes about washing your hands long enough to destroy the virus and which songs you sing to ensure you are washing them long enough. My wife happens to think “Father Figure” by George Michael is one of the sexiest songs to exist so I threw that reference into the title to make her happy. The title also plays on the book “Love in the time of Cholera” by Gabriel García Márquez.

Safety Note

Safety Note: (of course having sex with someone you are not sure of their COVID status would probably cancel what protection the masks would provide).” — Jeff

The pose of the couple in the painting is inspired on the following shunga design by Keisai Eisen (1790-1848)…

Fig.5. ‘Lovers‘ (c.1820) by Keisai Eisen (1790-1848)

Click HERE for more exciting modern shunga art….!!

For more info on this “Coronavirus” piece you can contact the artist here….!!

*kabuto was an important part of the traditional Japanese armour worn by the samurai class and their retainers in feudal Japan
**a Tuskin raider or a sand person is a minor star wars character. The steam roller is some sort of breathing? tube