There's a feeling you get inside when you stand in front of the work of an admired artist, and are finally able to examine the brushstrokes and smudges, the weight of a line, and the changes in direction in a bleed of colour. I have long been pulled toward the often grotesque, distorted figures of Egon Schiele, and as I stood in front of the Leopold Museum in Vienna, the cold reddening my nose, I felt a tremor in my chest, knowing that what I had studied in awe from books, would at last be a breath's distance away.
I felt submerged in a dark sea, muddy-coloured fish surrounding me, with piercing eyes— their elongated skeletal forms, twisting and coiling, erotic and disturbing. What captured me most were their hands— stretched, knobby-knuckled fingers like tree branches, so expressive, so real. The entire painting, held in these hands.