Something I Loathe


This picture haunts me.  It has been hung in my workplace for as long as I’ve been here (too freakin’ long!) and I’ve always found it unsettling.  One day it disappeared and I was like “phew, the visual assault on my eyeballs is over”.

Then, recently, I arrived at one of our funky satellite offices (ok, the ONLY funky office) to find it’s baaaack!!!!  Like that damned doll from John Saul’s book, “Comes the Blind Fury”.

Artist: Bill Cook (2004)

Upon it’s creepy return I’ve forced myself to assess why I loathe this.

First, the subject – that strange woman with the awful headscarf and the scary left eyebrow.  I just don’t like her.  I don’t like her clothing style, I don’t like the head scarfe, I don’t like the colours she’s wearing together, I don’t like the harsh shadows on her face.  I don’t like anything about her.

Plus the vibrancy (?) of the colours used – particularly where the sky meets the water.  It’s wrong, out of place and eerily ominous.  The colours convince me something is wrong.  Something about it reminds me of Disney’s Fantasia. I can’t recall this movie properly except for the scene where Mickey is tormented by the sinister dancing mops and buckets.  That has always disturbed me since I was a kid.  I mean look at those sinister shadows!  Shudder…

Walt Disney's Fantasia - Scary Mops

Then there’s the lighting.  Is it me or is the lighting wrong?  The sun is setting from behind her yet the highlights are coming from the front…  Aren’t they?

The lighting casts harsh shadows on her face which I think it makes her look menacing and evil.  Like a nasty witch who is up to no good and is about to wreak havoc on the unsuspecting little fishing village.  It makes me think of Stephen King’s character, Carrie.  Perhaps the small-minded occupants of the fishing villiage have wronged her and she’s going to exact her revenge…  Maybe the front lighting it is the glow from the villiage she’s already set alight as part of her vengeance!

While I do not like this picture at all I have to say that, when you inspect closely (and I did!), the workmanship is super cool.  The artist is very clever, I couldn’t produce something so fine as this.  I do admire and respect the work and talent required to produce this, even if I don’t like it.

So there you go – something I respectfully loathe.  I’d love to know what you see.  Do you agree or can you see something I don’t?

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13 thoughts on “Something I Loathe

  1. Loved your analysis of this painting. I agree with you whole-heartedly. I do see something, maybe sadness, in her eyes when I look closely. But not exactly sadness, like maybe she has been sad for so long, that now she is turning bitter or disturbed. I dunno…anyway, I’m with you…wouldn’t want to have to look at this for any length of time.

    • Hey! Thanks for commenting! I like your perspective (not just because you agree!). Another friend of mine has a totally opposing viewpoint and I think you have bridged our separate views. (I’m hoping she’ll comment on this too). Amazing how a picture can mean something totally different to each person who views it.

      I love your work by the way, I’m cruising through it “as I type”! I totally dig the pup – I’m a huge dog fan and have always dreamed of creating a children’s book with a dog as the central character!

  2. What part of that painting is supposed to be pleasant to look at. It’s harsh – the colours, the lighting, the woman’s features. Any chance you can contact the artist and ask him how he expected people to react to it? (or track down the person who bought it and ask them why?)

    • I agree. The organisation I work for bought the painting as I believe it won an award at the annual art and ceramic exhibition it holds, I think that is part of the agreement with the artists that contribute (don’t quote me on that). Perhaps I will try and track down the artist – I’ll let you know!

  3. I don’t like it either. For me it’s partially about the garish color, but it’s also imbalanced. Apparently the boat is supposed to look like it’s at a distance from the woman, but to me, it looks like a giant woman next to a toy boat. The composition is disruptive in a bad way.

    • Kind of disturbing isn’t it? I admire the skill involved but the outcome just isn’t to my personal taste I guess!

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