In the late 1980s, roughly around the time he learned he had HIV, Hugh Steers began to paint images of a small, cryptic being. Steers often depicted this child-like figure crouched on people's chests or clutching their head—as though she was trying to smother them. In Girl in Blue and Red (1987), Steers presents this imp-like creature mournfully sitting on another male figure. Her position recalls that of the incubus from Henry Fuseli’s The Nightmare (1781), and reveals the influence of the Western canon on the artist's practice. Like the woman suffering from the nightmare in Fuseli's painting, Steers’s man is prone, with blood-red drapery pooled around this stiff, collapsed form.
Private collection (acquired directly from the artist)
Schröder, Barbara and Karen Kelly, eds. Hugh Steers: The Complete Paintings, 1983-1994. New York: Visual AIDS, 2015, p. 192.