Painting > Portraits-- 2015-2016

Gwendolyn Zabicki, Gwen Zabicki, artist, painting, Chicago artist, Gwen Zabicki artist, Gwendolyn Zabicki artist, Gwen Zabicki painting, Gwendolyn Zabicki painting, Gwen Zabicki Chicago, Gwendolyn Zabicki Chicago
Josephine
oil on canvas
32in x 24in
2015

On a flight to Dusseldorf, I sat next to an older woman named Josephine. She had had about four drinks and I had taken a few muscle relaxants and soon we became good friends. She told me she was a professor emeritus at Juilliard and that she was a widow. She wanted to give me all of this life advice and she somehow knew that I wanted to hear it. She told me that the love of her life died 12 years ago, but that being a widow was not that bad. She told me not to be afraid to be alone and she told me to visit her in New York sometime. We met for dinner a few months later. A grand piano filled the living room of her tiny apartment where she played a selection of Chopin and Brahms for me. Josephine told me that Brahms had been in love with a married woman named Clara Schumann, whom he had known for a long time. When her husband died, Brahms was hoping that he and Clara would finally be together and he wrote a song for her. They never married, but they loved each other from a distance for years. It was a strange affair. The remarkable thing is that even if you don’t know the complicated backstory, you can hear the hopefulness in the song he wrote for her. It communicates wordlessly. I wanted to make a painting of Josephine that did the same thing, that captured her in paint as she seemed to me– confident, beatific, and wise.