Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Master-Stroke Indeed

Richard Dadd's "The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke" was painted between 1855 and 1864. But from at least 1982 up until the present day it has been on display just above my dad's dresser. Clearly, my dad saw a lot of power in this work and I accordingly followed suit and used to stare at it in awe, sometimes having to ask him to remind me of the artist's name until it became all too easy to remember it as "dad(d)'s painting." This is all the more appropriate in an odd, morbid way because Dadd was notorious for having murdered his own dad with a knife, believing him to be the devil. Dadd had also tried to kill another man with a razor. Apparently his genetics were haunted by mental illness and most seem to think that he was a paranoid schizophrenic. His affliction first surfaced while he was traveling all over the world as a draftsman. While in Egypt, sailing down the Nile, he became convinced that he was under the control of the god Osiris. After killing his dad he was placed in a mental institution where he continued to paint and conjured up the vision of the master-stroke. One of the most important images of my life.

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