Man Chasing Woman by Sandro Chia

Sandro Chia

Man Chasing Woman, 1981, Acrylic on paper laid on canvas, 270 x 189.5 cm, Private Collection, © Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York; Photograph courtesy of Sotheby's

Close Close
Zoom in Zoom in
Zoom out Zoom out
Reset image Reset image

I Will Now Allure Her

Commentary by

In Man Chasing Woman (1981) Italian artist Sandro Chia explores the oppositional relationships between men and women. The painting shows two protagonists in action—one male and one female. They are depicted against a predominantly black background that is occasionally filled with bold-coloured brushstrokes, suggestive of unseen and unknown mysteries lying beyond.

The voluptuous woman, wearing red (suggesting passion?), has her back towards the viewer. She is running in the direction of the unknown and seemingly away from the man. Her buttocks are in full view—possibly a tease for the man; possibly a result of her frantic rush to get away from him. Her outstretched arm reaches up towards the mysterious distance. The tension between the woman and the man is almost tangible as the man seems to close in on the woman, one hand almost grasping her heel, the other hiding a dagger, seen only by us.

If we make this artwork a lens for reading Hosea 2:5–13, then we may be helped to imagine the woman/Gomer as she continues playing the sensuous whore, cavorting with lovers that give her gifts. The dark background may evoke the ‘hedge’ and ‘wall’ built up against her (Hosea 2:6), and echo Hosea/God’s words, ‘She shall pursue her lovers…she shall seek them but shall not find them’ (v.7).

While Hosea (or the God whom he envoices) imagines Gomer returning to him and saying, ’for it was better with me then than now’ (v.7), we learn that Hosea/God still intends to punish and strip Gomer to shame her in front of her lovers, and makes sure ‘no one shall rescue her out of my hand’ (v.10). When this is read with our eye on the dagger in the man’s hands, we cannot but wonder what ominous ‘better’ end awaits the unknowing Gomer.

 

References

Perrini, Stefano, 2015. Beyond Transavantgarde: Art in Italy in the 1980s. MA thesis, University of Zurich. pp.35–36

Read next commentary