God speed

Christ wants a child’s heart, but a grown-up’s head. – C.S. Lewis

Le Vent dans le dos (25 October 2020)

In Le Vent dans le dos, a long sleek horse carries on her back a woman and a fox. The woman sits tall, her hand resting lightly on the horse’s neck, her blond hair flowing forward in the wind as one with the horse’s magnificent yellow tail. The fox is curled up in a ball, snuggled right up against the woman’s back, his nose buried in his tail. This is a position of rest. Yet the fox does not sleep; his eyes are open. He is alert to something. Or rather, to someone: the woman sitting on the horse.

Waterstain for Le Vent dans le dos

This is not our first encounter with the woman. It’s not our first encounter with the fox and the horse, either. All three of them star in two earlier paintings, Il a peur de descendre and Jean-Claude-Philippe-André, ça suffit maintenant! in the following roles: the fox as the insubordinate in the upper left hand corner, the woman as the middleman, and the horse as the authority figure in the lower right hand corner (see Who’s counting? 16 April).

Il a peur de descendre (3 July 2020)
Jean-Claude-Philippe-André, ça suffit maintenant ! (3 October 2020)

In Le Vent dans le dos, we see that the horse has gotten the cooperation she had been demanding of the fox. The fox’s obedience, however, does not explain in full the trio’s ability to move forward together as one unified group. If they can do this, it is thanks to the woman. She is still positioned between the insubordinate and the authority figure, but her hand on the latter’s neck and the melding of her hair with the tail indicates that she has chosen her side. Keeping her there is the fox.

The fox is the adult I had become. He had acquired over the years an intelligence of the mind that made him a fully functioning grown-up, but he had lost sight of the child inside his heart: the horse. Why? Because he had failed to care for the woman. The woman used to be the child, which means her heart is still the child’s heart, only wounded. She has scratched at these wounds for years; it hurts, but she doesn’t know how to stop. In fact, she’s not sure she wants to; the pain is what defines her. She is her wounds.

The horse knows that the woman’s wounds can be healed, but she can’t do it alone. She needs the fox to put his back to the task, to be always vigilant and alert to the woman’s needs lest she fall off the horse and start picking at her wounds again. This is no small job; the fox can’t do it alone. He needs the horse to lead the way. The wounded woman is not going anywhere, but she need not be an obstacle to their ability to move forward as one unit, not with the right combination of a grown-up’s intelligence and a child’s heart to support her. That and a little wind at their backs. God speed, my friends.

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