Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss” (1908) ~ Themes of Feminism and Male Dominance Klimt’s The Kiss has enjoyed an enduring legacy, and I suspect it’s because, like so many famous paintings, its meaning is uncertain. One school of thought is that The Kiss shows, according to “Janson’s History of Art”, a faceless lustful male losing his identity as he is lured by passion and consumed by an enticing but indifferent femme fatale, who appears about to pull him over the edge into the abyss below. “Janson’s” notes that The Kiss was created shortly after the start of the late 19th century feminist movement and the emergence of The New Woman, both of which endangered historical male dominance. On the other hand, there is tremendous tension in The Kiss. The woman’s head is cocked uncomfortably against her shoulder; the fingers of her right hand are clenched and not relaxed; and she is perilously close to the cliff. None of this suggests the appearance of a New Powerful Woman shaking traditional male dominance. Instead, she looks dominated.

Adam Tan ~ “Painting Melancholia” An illustrator based out of New Zealand, Adam Tan (1991-2014) produced an incredible amount of work. His dreamy and metaphysical paintings left behind beautiful tones of melancholia. In October 2014, he was reportedly missing, and shortly after his body was found in a stream. Adam endured periods of depression and had voluntarily admitted himself to the mental health ward prior to his death.

Gustav Klimt – “Death and Life”, 1910 Gustav Klimt’s large painting Death and Life, created in 1910, features not a personal death but rather merely an allegorical Grim Reaper who gazes at “life” with a malicious grin. This “life” is comprised of all generations: every age group is represented, from the baby to the grandmother, in this depiction of the never-ending circle of life. Death may be able to swipe individuals from life, but life itself, humanity as a whole, will always elude his grasp. The circle of life likewise repeats itself in the diverse, wonderful, pastel-coloured circular ornaments which adorn life like a garland. Gustav Klimt described this painting, which was honoured with a first prize at the 1911 International Art Exhibition in Rome, as his most important figurative work.