An enormous wave crashes between a couple. The water affirms their sense of exhilaration, passion, adventure. The painting is from a series based on Elizabeth Smart’s experimental novel, By Grand Central Station I Sat down and Wept. Here is a sample quotation: “But I have become part of the earth: I am one of its waves flooding and leaping. I am the same tune now as the trees, hummingbirds, sky, fruits, vegetables in rows. I am all or any of these. I can metamorphese at will.” (p. 43) In this context, the word “metamorphosis” indicates the transformative power of love, both in its positive inspirational aspects and its obsessive, self-destructive aspects. The painting uses water as a symbol of this transformation.
The crashing wave alludes to Hokusai, the great Japanese artist (1760-1849). In his most famous image, The Great Wave off Kanagawa, Hokusai contrasts the violent and transitory effects of water with the calm permanence of the distant Mount Fuji. Robert looked for similar contrasts in his own work, but with more of a focus on human psychology.