Fiery underwhelmed goddesses

I wake up in the morning and this image is one of the first things I see in my room.

There’s normally quite a brutality to Egon Schiele’s depiction of women – like he’s broken the female form up into little pieces and stitched them back together, limb by limb (although this isn’t quite so prominent in this piece). The way Schiele’s fractured female forms are normally portrayed through the mark- making, colour and form, drifts between drawing and painting.This is why I find his drawings so compulsive to rummage through – I continue to get most excited by the tension between drawing and painting, form and structure, mark and surface.

It is also only when the female form is visually dissected and the human condition responded to in such an analytical manner, that the representation of a female form becomes compulsive viewing. Wandering around, looking at the Titian’s and Sargent’s of this world when I was younger, I was amazed at the aesthetic beauty of the painted woman. I loved Peter Lely’s paintings of the Stuart mistresses (maybe that had something to do with my love for all things Charles II and
the fact that chubby chasers such as myself were deemed ‘hot ladies’ back in the day). But it wasn’t until I saw Freud’s work and Sickert’s painterly, brutal representations of prostitutes that I realised the power of representation and the effect it can have on how you both contextualise and perceive a painting, and indeed women.

Anyway, this painting quite simply makes me happy. In quite a cliche way, I see a little of myself in this mysterious fiery haired lady. And I will admit, my love for the colour green and my love for fiery red hair may have a little something to do with it (sadly, I do not possess the dream locks of flames). She looks a cross between, underwhelmed, sad, bored and also expectant. Like she’s not quite sure what to do next or where she’s going. Or maybe she’s just staring into space….maybe she is indeed just posing. I can’t really articulate why I feel a slight connection to this painting. And it is rare that it is moreso what is being represented, rather than how it is being represented that entices me. The argument that those two things are intertwined crops up there…..However, despite all that, all I know for sure is that when I see this I smile.

Barbara

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