Austrian painter Egon Schiele (1890-1918) was a well-known ‘Expressionist’ artist of the early twentieth century. His paintings were often pronounced as disturbing, with his creatively erotic paintings leading the front. The intensity of his work however, has been appreciated over the years. Schiele painted several portraits in his lifetime, most of which are his own. The human figures he created always ‘Symbolized’ something. They were the carrier of expressions Egon wanted to demonstrate. In 1918, Schiele painted his magnum opus, a portrait of his friend Albert Paris von Gutersloh, called “Portrat des Albert Paris von Gutersloh.” This portrait corroborates the degree of contortion and agony Egon liked to depict in his paintings.
“Portrat des Albert Paris von Gutersloh” is an oil on canvas work with the dimensions 55 1/4cm X 43 ¼ cm. The picture shows a very garish and strikingly convoluted image of Schiele’s fellow Austrian painter Albert Paris. In the midst of a flame like bright reddish-orange background, Albert Paris is seated on a sort of an emotional electric chair. He is dressed in an off-white shirt, blue trousers, and a royal blue tie. His clothes are wrinkled and his whole body seems to be shaking under the effect of convulsions. His eyes are in a state of great shock and there is not even a hint of smile on his countenance. It seems like he is undergoing immense psychological turmoil. The hands of the protagonist are raised upwards with the right palm facing the viewer and the left hand raised up to his own shoulder. Both the hands are twisted. Schiele has dexterously used bold contour lines to create three-dimensional effects in the picture.
“Portrat des Albert Paris von Gutersloh” is the typical of Schiele’s style of painting, compelling and distorted, with thick brushstrokes. Like most of his pictures, it too depicts anxiety and torture. It seems as if the protagonist is reacting to a major electric shock. The portrait is an unfinished work. The painting speaks aloud not just of Egon’s recorded observation of Albert’s physical appearance, but also conveys his own then state of mind. Similarly, most of Schiele’s other paintings too are ‘Expressionist,’ where the use of dark, exaggerated lines & very bold colors is made, and the painting strives to show its hidden connotations. To serve this purpose, the symmetry and the beauty of the painting had to be compromised slightly by making it twisted and painful, as visible in Egon Schiele’s “Portrat des Albert Paris von Gutersloh.”