Eroticism, Pleasure, Birth and Death in Art

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Art, Eroticism, Love, Passion, Pleasure

Have you ever had one of those days that you waited for with excited anticipation and then it was even more magical than you could’ve imagined?

After my first time speaking at ICM Congress in Vienna in 2002 my dear friend Mary Kroger invited me and some others to come visit her favorite museum in the Belvedere, to see her favorite artist, Gustav Klimt.

Gustav Klimt - The Kiss

I had never heard of this artist but I am always up for an adventure!

I’ll never forget the moment of walking into the room to see “The Kiss” for the first time, and how my heart melted.

Oh the passion, power and the deep intimacy of their connection.  I knew this was going to be the beginning of a love affair with Gustav Klimt’s work.

I often come to Austria to speak & teach, but I don’t usually have free days to drive to Vienna. This time (2018), I had a special free day with Angelika, my wonderful host and she offered to take me wherever my heart desired.

I immediately thought of Klimt.

We decided to visit the Leopold Museum – as they were celebrating their 100 year anniversary and had Klimt’s life story as well as more original works on exhibition. The choice was easy as I always love to learn more.

Listening to someone’s life story provides so many insights. Each of us has our own unique story – and the unfolding of one’s life and art is as unique to each person as each brush stroke.

It was incredible to see the transformation Klimt had, from classical style of serene portraits to more radical themes of sexuality, birth and death.

Gustav Klimt - .Leopold Museum 2018 - Debra Pascali-Bonaro

In one room was a set of commissioned works – massive in size from floor to ceiling.  The series, Philosophy, Medicine, and Jurisprudence was criticized for the radical themes and material portrayed, and were called “pornographic”.  These images are filled with the entanglement of the journey we call life. The pain, sorrow, loss, birth, ecstasy and pleasure. I could’ve sat in the room all day and still not felt all of the emotions that each image provoked and to me, the works were masterpieces of emotions and far from pornographic.

The next set of works was incredible. Instead of being put down and complying with culture, Klimt moved forward in his boldness. He depicted and gave voice to the passion, sensuality, ecstasy, erotism and power that he felt and saw in women. These images of women were sensuous –  masturbation -erotism and I have to believe that for each model to feel safe enough to be so vulnerable, took a very special artist who saw the beauty in each woman.

No wonder I was so drawn to his art without ever having had the time to fully research his life story and his other art!

Gustav Klimt - Leopold Museum 2018 Quote

His second to last painting before he died, was “Death and Life”. Little did he know he would die so young in his late 50s, but he captured these two Sacred Gateways in such a profound way. Only death and life had eyes wide open. The rest of the characters depicted were in the “dream of life” I could have gazed at this image for hours and still not seen and felt all the messages that Klimt intended. This was his last finished painting.

It’s been an incredible journey since that first time I saw a Klimt and met Angelika at the International Confederation of Midwives Congress, we were two of just three doulas among 3000 midwives. Since then my good friend, Mary Kroger, a wonderful midwife has passed, just like Klimt leaving us too early. I carry-on Mary’s vision for MotherBabies through our new International Childbirth Initiative, I think of her and her vision every day, and in doing so, remember that I must be bold, just like Klimt.

Here I am years later, feeling stronger each time I speak about the role of a doula – confident of our place.

I feel connected and inspired by the Midwives, Doulas and Providers that support gentle birth around the world, and the advocates, artists and writers who honor the sensuality, sexuality, connection, passion love, ability to heal, expand in pleasure and power every day in every person.

Where do you find power, passion and inspiration? Tweet me @OrgasmicBirth the ways you find inspiration to continue moving forward. 


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