Misunderstanding, 1993

Misunderstanding, 1993
Oil on cardboard, 138,7 x 98,5 cm

The intimate “setting” of the oil painting Misunderstanding immediately captivates its audience. In front of a metropolitan backdrop, a man is holding an umbrella in his hand and leans over to a woman, extending his hand. She turns her back to him with a wide grin, and points to herself with her index finger. What has happened? The man, apparently a street vendor, asks the woman with outstretched hand to pay for the umbrella. However, she refuses his offer to buy an umbrella under a clear-blue sky laughingly: She could not even use the slightly transparent umbrella as protection against the sun.

The captivating scene is set in motion by the vibrant, radiant colours the artist chose. The warm red of the man’s jacket brings him into the foreground. The woman, then again, sets a bright contrast to his appearance with her white, flouncy dress and lemon hair band. Both figures are consciously cut at the front, so that they both, almost by chance, enter the viewer’s field of vision and include him or her in their Tête-à-Tête.

Ruth Baumgarte connects the cheerful umbrella scene with a critical side blow to colonialism: The selling of imported umbrellas from Europe apparently did not have any success in this confident African society but was rejected coquettishly.