Amorous Psychology of the Genders – The Dance of Love

Oskar Kokoschka, “Two Nudes (Lovers)”, 1913
Oskar Kokoschka, “Two Nudes (Lovers)”, 1913

Why Kokoschka didn’t call this work “Adam and Eve”? The both, man and woman, just stepped out of a paradisiacal forest and are looking ahead, at the frightening world, the man with fear and impulsively trying to turn back, but the woman is determined to lead him forward. Right behind her we see some grey elongated creature – is it Biblical serpent or just a trunk of the tree? The verdure is plenitude itself, with giant exotic flowers, with the magic, fairy-tale aura. Kokoschka, probably, wanted to emphasize that in every serious love there is an unconscious determination to extend ourselves into life, that there is something of Adam and Eve situation in any love affair. Every couple touched by love knows the desire to meet the natural consequences of the innocently paradisiacal impulse (where erotic prelude is mixed with the absurd but irresistible sexual pantomime) and amorous yearning/melting in order to appear together in an emotional womb, where the third substance – the baby will be created by the miracle of love (as, as if, a compensation for parental loss of their individualities in a despotic symbiosis of marital ties).

For the young man the paradise of sexuality is more obvious and immediate, more fixating and overwhelming. He wants to remain there, of course, on a condition that god (authoritarian parental will) would allow beloveds to love each other, but for the woman with her biological sensitivity for the thirdness of love transcending its couple-hood, it’s easier to understand that it is impossible to turn back (that god doesn’t need heirs: he is eternal oneness), that the destiny of their love is being “condemned” to real life. The man as youth doesn’t want to rush into a world which taxes his physical and emotional pleasures with condemning obligations (besides this, there is, probably, a new war in the making which will separate them), but she is ready to lead him to the future life and she protects him from looking at reality too attentively (she tries to turn man’s head away from the reality while moving his body towards it). Their healthy athletic bodies are covered by the mosaic of shades from the huge tropic leafs, like memories of Paradise’s innocent caresses. But the call to the prosaic light of adulthood is unconditional, objective and relying on Eva’s determination to live in life. She is not god; she is a goddess… of earthly marriage.

Kokoschka suggests that this incompatibility between man/youth’s unconscious desire to be a lover in sexual and amorous paradise and woman’s sober readiness to be a caring wife and mother in circumstances of real life is also connected with the intensity of her desire to be one with the young man (without the mediation of god and any other authorities including parental ones (even in an internalized form), to be for him the only one and in full charge of their togetherness as creators of a “new world” of their project and progeny. In this sense, the woman with her courage to lead is a warrior of personal life and sustainer of couple-hood.

According to Kokoschka‘s “Two Nudes (Lovers)” this discrepancy between man’s Paradise-oriented sexual desire and woman’s Reality-oriented amorous and family-building desire is what creates the psychological dance of love when she is moving in one direction while he in the opposite one to a non-conflictual (paradisiacal) unity. The human dance of love we see in the painting, is a result of this opposition between the man’s and the woman’s postures in love which is reflected in the classic missionary position in love-making (the man looks for orgasmic paradise, the woman – for orgasmic possession of man’s orgasm and for being inseminated). Nature, like Marxist dialectics, is a great trickster – it transforms oppositions into unity.

The beautiful healthy bodies of Kokoschka’ lovers give birth to the emotional expressiveness of their faces – fearful and sad in the young man and quietly determined and courageous in the young woman: the positions of two genders inside a newly discovered kingdom of earthly love, when man is cowardly enough to assume the position of power and simultaneously child-likeness and the woman is wise enough – to accept her position of being the second, that in reality is the first (sometimes it works).

Oskar Kokoschka (1886 – 1980)
Oskar Kokoschka (1886 – 1980)

Oskar Kokoschka as a young man
Oskar Kokoschka as a young man