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What lies beneath: Adam and Eve by Anton Jaszusch

  • Adam and Eve by Anton Jaszusch
  • Oil on burlap Nedbalka Gallery, Bratislava


Adam and Eve by Anton Jasusch

Adam and Eve by Anton Jasusch

Adam and Eve by Anton Jasusch

Today, on Mother's Day, Eve the first woman, the mother of us all, deserves a shout out. Supposedly created from one of Adam's ribs, Genesis 3.20 tells us that "Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living". Wife? And she never even got to wear the big white dress?

Her name, Eve, comes from Hebrew havvah meaning 'life', 'lifegiving' or, scholars say, possibly, 'snake' but let's not go there.

In this painting by Slovakian artist Anton Jaszusch, Eve is with her Adam and they, with their toothpaste-ad smiles never looked happier. Toned, trim, back-to-back they stand, her right hand gently touching his left one. The couple is framed by luxuriant plants, flowers and beautiful birds. The birds all look towards the loved-up couple; the monkey looks perplexed. And in the distance a beautiful, gentle land and seascape beneath a soft, blue sky and fluffy clouds. It is paradise after all.

The peacock's neck is wrapped around Adam while the serpent seems to be navel gazing except that Eve never had a bellybutton. It's a perfect moment, a moment before everything went wrong. Or perhaps not. Why should Eve listen to a god that tells her what she should and should not do? Eve, gave us, her children, free will albeit in an imperfect world?

Born in Kosice in eastern Slovakia in 1882, Anton Jaszusch studied Fine Art in Budapest, Munich and Paris. Between 1910 and 1914 he painted Slovakian landscapes, but the 1914-18 war changed everything. Forced to enlist, Jazsusch fought on the Italian and Russian fronts, was imprisoned in a war camp in the Far East. It took him four years to return home to Kosice where he lived for the rest of his life. From 1920 his art questioned and explored man's place in the world. He frequently depicted man as someone forced to wander the earth - and this double portrait of Adam and Eve is of the very first wanderers.

He died aged 83 and towards the end of his life he returned to painting the countryside but also painted concentration camps and other war images.

Having known the trauma of war Anton Jaszusch, in this painting, returns us to a peaceful, harmonious moment in the story of mankind. And that Adam and Eve are a mixed-race couple gives the moment a great feeling of hope, a promise of a great future for planet earth.

Sunday Independent