First published: Fall 2005
In a Northern forest the Skeletonman is warming himself by the campfire. It is skulls, instead of wood, that produce heat and light. The painting is by Finnish Outsider artist Viljo Gustafsson (1927–1994). Central to his work was the belief that 'death is doing an important job in transforming death into life. Life's dark side may be seen as the purpose of life.'
In another painting, a pregnant woman stands on a hill slope, staring at a deep black lake where a child's coffin is floating. Describing his stark use of colour, Gustafsson said that 'black is not a colour that should be used, nor can it be talked about, for it represents not only the birth, but also the death. Black is a frightening mystery'. Gustafsson's art was not meant to be displayed in galleries, so it is very frank and raw; it is looking for the mystery of life and death.