Surreal illustrations by Simo Liu of 'disaster rooms' that we hope to escape from

Before Covid-19 impacted our lives, most of us enjoyed a sense of freedom that we probably took for granted. After months of restrictions, our need for escape has never felt so strong; it's a feeling Los Angeles illustrator Simo Liu shares greatly in her latest series.

Called Escape, her illustrations tell the story of a lone character trying to escape from different rooms in search of Utopia. "These rooms represent natural and man-made disasters that occurred in 2020," Simo explains. "From coronavirus, locust plagues, forest fires, floods, and earthquakes. Covid-19, in particular, led to limited flights, travel bans, social distancing rules and more – all leaving us feeling trapped.

"Meanwhile, we see people from other countries treating the pandemic differently, some more lightly but others more harshly. Either way, this year has left us feeling overwhelmed and wanting to escape from the chaos."

Simo was inspired by Bong Joon-ho's black comedy thriller, Parasite, and its opposing worlds as well as the twists and turns of Maurits Cornelis Escher's mathematical graphic paintings. "Both show contradictory spaces, which are extremely difficult to escape from," she says.

Creating nine different rooms for the series, Simo presents "eight individual difficulties" but one of hope, and that's of Utopia. "Even though we are suffering right now, there is always light in the darkness. The pandemic will disappear eventually, the sun will rise again."