"Karen Fang finds hope in Mu Pan’s playfully misanthropic art."THE MACABRE ARTIST Mu Pan shot to a new level of visibility when a mural he created for the critically acclaimed horror filmMidsommar (2019) was featured in the film’s opening. The mural, which foreshadows plot developments while also setting the tone for the film’s stylish combination of boreal solstice and shocking brutality, features delicate vignettes of a family connected by umbilical cords and a blonde woman dressed in white and crowned in flowers, all under a whimsically benevolent sun. Yet if this opening visual, with its slow pan in close-up, was a compelling introduction to Pan’s art, the mural itself is somewhat atypical of his unique style. Midsommar’s Swedish setting required a pseudo-Scandinavian folk style devoid of the eclectic cultural references that tends to characterize Pan’s work, reflecting his biography as a Taiwan-born, Brooklyn-based artist. The mural’s narrative progression and clean Scandinavian design lacks the dizzying imagery of Pan’s typical work, which usually teems with figures whose action spreads in all directions, and for which close scrutiny is rewarded with constant new surprises.