Marcel Gromaire, Le Couple, etching, 1935.

I was about to respond, but a frame hanging near the big window caught my eye.

“What’s that there?”

We went further into the room. I had to get close to look at it. There was a brass light above the print, which he switched on. It was like looking into a small, carefully lit theatre.

The black and white glowed, seemed both flicked and carved in, giving the print the texture of a rough cloth. Frictional, this print of a naked woman with sandpaper skin and loose wires of hair. Her face turned to the side, rested on her shoulder. Her skin was nearly white. She was sitting on the edge of a couch or a bed. Behind her sat a man in a suit whom she obscured, save for the silhouette of his shoulder, his ear, and his two sleeved arms, which came up under hers in a mysterious, faceless embrace. She was naked, he was clothed. There were so many paintings in my art textbook of these women exposed, and so few of men, if any, that I could think of at the time.

The print had a violent aspect to it. The scratchy surface, the man’s crudely rendered, paw-like hands. Passionate what the figures shared between them. A print of action in contrast to my stillness, Omar’s stillness in this room.


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