Abraham Walkowitz, Two Figures Seated Before a Window

3 Dec

Brown ink.  How utterly un-inklike this painting looks, as if he had hewed it together with great slabs of trees, not as delicate as ink on rice-paper.

The two figures are sitting in front of a window, completely enveloped in darkness.  And while their little circle is lit up by a full moon, the rest of the room is alive in darkness, all smears and lines and smudges, darkness as solid as a wall.   The figures sit facing each other, one in a rocking chair and one on a stump.  Are they talking?  Are they working?  The one figure seems to be looking down at his hands which are busy doing something, the other passively watching.  Are they choosing to be up when it’s dark like this, or are they forced to by duty?   I am reminded of a time where the only reason someone would be up at a late hour was because someone was sick, though this does not seem to be the case.

The light is important–the two figures clearly are sitting near it, rather than away from it, and the round hollow of the moon hanging over a vague landscape that might be the ocean as well.  The figures are huddled together in the darkness, paying attention to each other.  Really it looks like they’re in a cave, but their companionship makes the space less alienating–perhaps they are talking late, and don’t want to retire (the person on the log sure seems like a visitor). How patiently he listens as if the other has not had the chance to speak in a very long time.

Which brings me back to the paper, how extraordinarily delicate the medium is, however heavy the imagery seems within it.  There’s a fragility there, something that could so easily be destroyed, but is not.  That’s what makes this drawing special.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: