The picture on the east wall

I am in the process of redecorating the other side of my house, my duplex-in-the-woods.  I am making a plan, coordinating colors (sort of) and removing things that may not be suitable for the random summer tenant.  For a long time that side was the dumping place for stuff I couldn’t think of what to do with.  There are some old filing cabinets, books on economics that belonged to my mother, a redundancy of corkscrews, a bulky old television set, a 50 year old radio with the tuning stuck on a station that plays loud rock and roll.  And, of course, the furniture that I didn’t want in my side.

The most difficult item to remove was a large (over 7 feet long and over 3 feet high) picture.  It hung in the larger of the 2 bedrooms of the apartment because that was a place with a long enough wall.  It is a heavy picture and it took 2 men to hang it, and thus took 2 men to move it.

Some people find the subject matter of the picture disturbing.  One summer I had a tenant who found it so objectionable that she asked me to cover it with a drape.

It consists of 3 individual monotypes hung together to make a single image.  It was done by one of my teachers in art school.  I first saw it in an exhibition at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.  The artist was at that time a young, pretty woman, a fine teacher, an exceptional artist, and something of a feminist.  Nevertheless, she was married and had a very cute little girl called Emma.  The artist, Cheryl Burgess, must now be middle aged, and Emma must be grown up.

The title of the picture is “His Kiss” and is one of a group of works that Cheryl referred to as her “beast” series.  The image consists of 2 figures.  There is a supine, insipidly lime-green submissive female figure being mounted by a huge hairy red and black male beast-like creature that is kissing her neck and tweaking her in other places.

Here’s the picture.  It was difficult to photograph because it was hung so high up.  That’s the reason for the distorted shape of the frame.

His Kiss by Cherly Burgess

His Kiss by Cherly Burgess

When our friend Hans was here to clean the gutters I asked him to help Jerry move the picture to our side of the duplex, where it now hangs on the east wall of the dining room.  This is by far the biggest expanse of wall on either side.  The wall extends up to the second story loft, and the picture is hung over 2 windows.  Thus, it is overhead and well above eye level.

The east wall

The east wall

Through the windows is a view of the woods and through the woods in the morning one can see the sun rise over Mt. Baker.

Hans is the husband of an artist, and has opinions about art.  He nodded approval and said he liked it.  Though Jerry had never expressed an opinion, I was pretty sure he didn’t care much for it; but when it was hung in the dining room and we all stood back I read his face (as I have learned to do.) I saw a glimmer of approval.

I thought it looked terrific.

It needed the distance of the big dining room-kitchen for one to appreciate its artistic merits.

The next test will be tomorrow night.  Eight people, good island friends, are coming for dinner.  Jerry said, “Let’s see how long it takes them to notice.”

I’ll let you know.

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17 Responses to The picture on the east wall

  1. Marja-Leena says:

    Wow, I thought at first that those were paintings below the monoprint! An exciting arrangement!

  2. Kay Dennison says:

    I like the arrangement very much and envy you the gorgeous view from your window!

  3. Hattie says:

    Fascinating. I had the same initial reaction as Marja-Leena, that the windows were paintings.

  4. wisewebwoman says:

    Me three on the windows.
    I like the painting. A lot.
    Huge undercurrents, huge societal and social impact.
    Let us know how the ‘viewing’ goes!
    XO
    WWW

  5. I love it – and I love where you put it. It’s fantastic!

  6. Rain says:

    Interesting painting with a powerful energy. I would say it more represents awakening.

  7. Tabor says:

    It does look best from a distance where you can get the full impact.

  8. Annie says:

    Amazing painting. But I can understand your tenant being disturbed by it. I think where you have hung it is probably better, a large wall to absorb the huge impact of such a painting. There’s something primeval about it that is complemented by the window views of the forest.

  9. Mage B says:

    I like it a lot….. nice powerful stuff. Thanks for sharing it. 🙂

  10. Alan G says:

    I really like the painting but without your explanantion of what I was seeing, my interpretation would have fallen well short, extremely disappointing the artist I’m sure. Looked like a creature simply enjoying his dinner to me!

    Guess that goes a long way in explaining why I am not the curator at our local museum. 🙂

  11. Cathy says:

    I think your guests will sleep a bit better without that beast lurking over their bed! LOL. C

  12. annie says:

    Since no one else has ventured a negative opinion, I’ll weigh in: I do not like this picture. The scale is just too big & I would not like to see this every day on my wall.

  13. Taina says:

    Interesting painting. I think the artist was very successful–it’s a painting that evokes emotions and reactions. It can be read on so many levels. A born again Christian Evangelical might see the red creature/beast as the devil, especially with the tail. One friend of my, she’s in her 80s, her bible-thumper daughter destroyed one of her paintings that she accused of having the red devil in it! It was a gorgeous painting of a shaman by an Indigenous woman from Latin America.

    Anoter reading is that The Kiss can be seen as steeped in fairytale. It certainly reminded me of the story of the wolf of Red Riding Hood. I wrote a poem about the wolf once, that she was Grandmother Wolf.

    I think on a mythological level it is very intersting. On another level beyond the large size it is, it could be just a small image, an etching painted with red ochre on a shaman’s drum.

  14. Taina says:

    one thing I forgot to say, too, is that in the Finnish cultural archive one of the most famous old poems is about a wolf kissing/ravaging a young woman.

    (my typo s/b “One friend of mine”)…i’m simply typing too fast and carelessly…

  15. Duchess says:

    I still maintain that if you hang it in the dining room it will make a good diet aid – putting people off their food.

  16. Friko says:

    better in the dining room than somebody’s bedroom, I think.

    I can’t see enough of it to know if I would like it, but the subject matter sounds interesting and ‘different’, so, if it is painted well, I probably would.

  17. Cheryl Burgess Burghardt says:

    I am the now very past middle age artist! Thank you Anne for posting this. It is fun to see that the monotype is still seen and enjoyed -at least by some! I remember you fondly as one of my best, most motivated students. Wishing you the best, Cheryl

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