The entire pictorial production of the Austrian artist Oskar Kokoschka can be described as a continuous search, and always in absolute solitude, a tragic solitude one could say. And the truth is that he tried to express that solitary spirit and his feelings not only to the images but also to the technique itself.
And with these principles it is logical to think that self-portraits would become an ideal form of work for him, treating himself as the great symbol of the loneliness of humanity and also of self-destruction. So there are several self-portraits that he painted, and in all of them he is scrutinizing the mysteries of life and death in his figure and face. As can be seen in this oil painting on canvas in 1917 and which is kept in the collection of the Von der Heydt Museum, in Wuppertal (Germany).
Self-portrait of Oskar Kokoschka
A portrait for which he opts for a technique based on very loose brushstrokes, turgid, with which he not only gives life to his own figure and his features, but also creates the setting and shows his own feelings of him.
Everything in general is bathed in a cloudy tone, the colors can be seen how they overlap as if there were a sparkling vibration, which serves to give greater prominence to an impression of restlessness of the portrayed, or perhaps from dissatisfaction, which is morewell what we read in his gesture.
Kokoschkahe looks at us viewers, or maybe at himself, with a gesture in which he tilts his head slightly, to ask us or ask us “who am I ?, what I do?". And he does it as a person, not as a painter, since he portrays himself without brushes in his hands or any element that represents his trade. It is the portrait of a man, lonely, full of doubts and dissatisfied with his life.
It is not the only time that his self-portraits convey these feelings, because it happens in other cases, but perhaps this is one of the most paradigmatic. However, he not only drew and painted looking for a meaning to his existence, he also did it with a criterion of recording that specific moment in his life. That is, with a certain documentary interest and even with the idea of raising a few points and asides in his life and his career. In short, that all of Kokoschka's peculiar art, whether in his self-portraits or in other works of his such as The Wife of the Wind or Children Playing, is shown to us as a very complex personality, tormented at times and who transfers all his concerns to painting.. It is therefore not surprising that his paintings became true references for the artists ofExpressionism.