Pope, Robert (Canadian, 1956-1992)


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In a number of his paintings, Robert Pope addressed the experience of hospital visits from the points of view of both patient and friend or relative. The Hug illustrates an intimate greeting—but one made more difficult both physically and psychologically by the IV apparatus. The woman has managed to put her arms around the man in spite of the IV tubing, and he had to be careful not to disrupt the tubing as he embraced her. She looks up lovingly at him, but he turns his face away with an expression of extreme sadness and helplessness. He can offer only emotional support; her physical life is in the hands of physicians and often toxic treatments. Each of them worries about her death—if the medication prevails, their lives will be returned to them. If not, she will die and he will be alone. Pope wrote, “… The two main opposing forces are life and death. The gesture of the hug is life-affirming. The colour grows redder where the figures touch. The IV pole, suggesting a cross, slashes through the couple like a dagger, splitting them in two, a reminder of mortality….” (Pope, Robert. Illness and Healing, Images of Cancer. Hantsport, Nova Scotia: Lancelot Press, 1991, p. 99) Notes by Mariann Smith
Critical Illness
Family Relationships
Illness and the Family
Patient Experience
Nova Scotia Art Gallery, Halifax