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38" x 50"
oil on canvas

Comments (21)




Eerily disturbing...reminds me of some of Baudelaire's stuff...except sanitized (perhaps even sterilized) for public consumption...but then, sometimes we need to be disturbed.


The legs look a bit suspicious, but still a neat piece. A good bit of mystery and nice colours.


I was going for seductive and mysterious.


I can only tell you what I see, & what that makes me feel (if anything).

What I see is suggestive of what I might see in a run-down red light district...

...with the exception that the subject is framed so that the environs look cleaner than I would imagine in such a place.

NOW, I hope this doesn't open a big can of worms, but...

Such a scene doesn't invoke seduction in me...the biggest thing I feel is discomfort, then pity (it's a subjection/objectification of women thing).

To me,

brothel = disturbing

brothel + clean = eerily disturbing

I have no problem believing that you didn't plan it that way, given that you (& others) classify your work as romantic.

Perhaps it is my own limitations that guide me to see this work as I do.

I believe it was Tolstoy who wrote that artists don't always understand their own muse...& sometimes even when they do, their efforts end up conveying something other than what they intended.

...doesn't lessen the quality of the work, though.


Like I've said before, my work tends to be open ended. Like a piece of poetry that can be interpreted a few different ways.

For example: I could do a still-life of a torn book lying on a bed. Does that mean I hate books? Does it mean that a person has died. Or can it be JUST a painting of a torn book with no real interior subtext.

That exactly how I treat the human figure. It's an evocative device that engages the viewer immediately. If the painting were simple storytelling, I'd lose all interest.


By the way, why does she have to be a prostitute? I gave no clues whatsoever she sells sex. Nudity is not an invitation to purchase sex.



I was just giving you feedback...& I'm not trying to be adversarial towards you.

She doesn't have to be anything...& I don't recall commenting one way or the other about nudity...

In fact, this is the first figure study of yours I've seen that strikes me as anything other than benign.

To elaborate on what I see in the picture...

I see what appears to be an open vestibule along a thoroughfare of some kind...

I see a building that I would imagine is old & run-down, yet is cleanly kept & decorated in vibrant yet faded colors...

I see what many would take to be a "Rising Sun" over the vestibule, & then there is the vessel outside the door...

The setting is what sets the image for me...by itself, the figure could be quite innocent--but in this case, it "seals the deal"...I can't look at the figure without considering the setting...

The setting screams "East-Asian prostitute"...& from what little I know about what many of those women--young women--even girls have faced in their lives, I don't get a good feeling looking at this picture...they are almost always innocent victims.

...and even though I'm disturbed by this particular picture, I think that people need to be disturbed some times to be made aware of the plight of others.

To put it another way, imagine you are walking down the street through a section of a town where the buildings look like this, & you pass a doorless vestibule with a naked woman sitting just far enough inside that you can't see her face...

What would you REALLY & TRULY think?

Again, I don't believe for a minute that you intended for this work to be perceived as I see it...however, I expect that I'm not the only one that does sees it...

Maybe you didn't intend for this to be a social commentary or an "awareness piece"--but what would be wrong with it becoming one? Whether or not you intended for it to be, I can see the potential...innocence, human dignity, & even beauty in the midst of tragedy.

Can anybody out there see where I'm coming from?


Very well put. You seem quite attuned how art reflects and projects human psyche, That what makes your commentary intriguing and honorable.

Who are three of you're favorite painters in art history?


Due to a string of unfortunate circumstances, I never formally studied art...I know very little regarding art history, painters, & painters' styles & techniques.

What understanding I have of art comes from: (1) a natural gift; (2) studying music; & (3) readings on aesthetics & "the philosophy of art."

I did want to study art (i.e., learn how to paint proficiently), & on occasion would take time to pour over volumes of image plates in various libraries.

Would 3 of my favorite images do? (not necessarily my only or most favorites)

1. The Scream, Edvard Munch (while the technique seems relatively primitive, it works)
2. Nymphs and Satyr, Bouguereau
3. Hylas and the Nymphs, John Williams Waterhouse

To my eye, Bouguereau seems to have a more refined style, while Waterhouse is more sensitive in his treatment of the subject [of nymphs].

Generally, I like the French impressionists.

I like some expressionist works, but generally they are too coarse--I think many [of them] painted to provoke rather than emote.


I take it my ignorance killed the discussion.



Trying to jump-start a stalled discussion...

Quite frankly, I think more of what those we call artists do is more craft than art.

I don't think that art is any better than craft...only different from it.

I believe that true art is communication--feelings or ideas expressed in works by producers that allow the viewers to empathize with the artists in such a way as to feel what the producers were feeling at the time given works were done.

On the other hand, craft does not embody this sense of communication. It may take every bit of effort to create a work of craft as a work of art, & a work of craft may be every bit as beautiful (or ugly, etc.) as a work of art...but the sense of communication is absent.

Michaelangelo said something to the effect that he would rather be known for producing a large body of mediocre works than a single great work...I believe that in effect he was saying that he would rather be a proficient craftsman than an unproductive artist.

To offer an alternate answer to the question you posed...

What I REALLY like are works that convey emotion, & I would say that the style I prefer might be called something like "fusion" (I have no idea whether there is a style or a school by such a name or not).

I like to see an expressionist sensibility brought to romanticist perspective with impressionist technique &/or style.

I prefer intensity & meaning over impersonal decorative objects, although there is plenty of purely decorative art (what I would call craft) that I enjoy immensely.

I like to see artists/craftsmen stretch, pushing the limits of technique.

I don't care one speck for so-called "modern" (abstract?) dreck--stuff that has no more perspective than could be produced by an average elementary school kid, & I REALLY dislike what I call "dropcloth art" [read: stuff like Jackson Pollock churned out].

Your thoughts?

What painters strike your fancy?



For a moment pretend she, not you, are in control in this situation. For a moment, pretend she is not helpless.

Let's pretend you cut classes at grade school and go over to this woman (irrespective of who she is). With your bag still slung across your shoulder, your hair unkempt - a fifteen year old boy - you're standing outside her door - eyes locked on her beautiful naked form - waiting for her to give you a come hither sign - wanting to touch her.

Maybe she is a queen of temptation? Maybe she enjoys teasing young boys! You can't say anything for sure till you see her face.

As long as the painting is open to interpretations other than yours (and with the face in the dark that is achieved perfectly) - I think the artist is doing just fine.

John - Woooooooooo



First, I never said that my interpretation is the only interpretation, nor do I expect anyone to conform their views to mine. It is interesting to hear other informed views, & I may or may not alter my view based on something I learn from other(s). I would like to think that I might also pass something of value on to someone else, but I have no expecations of others in that regard. To pass on a Louis Armstrong quotation I seem to recall seeing somewhere around here...

"There are some people who if they don't know, you can't tell 'em."

Second, one could invent bizarre scenarios from now until the cows come home. The view I expressed is the most probable scenario given primarily how the subject is presented & secondarily what limited knowledge I have of "the trade"--from passing through the more tragic sections of cities by necessity--& "docu-news".

Third, my view of "her" is based on the aforementioned knowledge, plus readings from philosophy (I suggest you read The Subjection of Women by John Stewart Mill), & from a small handful of women I have briefly known who either had been in "the trade" & left it, or who were in "the trade" & sought temporary refuge in clubs where I was working as a musician. Unlike some men, I treated those women as I would any other woman---as valuable souls, not as targets of opportunity...& what I learned from them strengthened my resolve to avoid treating women as objects. I still derive immense pleasure from appreciation of the female form, but I would wager that I'm more thoughtful about it than the "typical" male.

Fourth, absent some kind of weapon, "she" has no control over me.

Fifth, I am no more inclined towards free loveless promiscuous sex than I am towards "commercial" loveless promiscuous sex.

I may be a dinosaur living in "modern" times, but I expect my relationships with women to be meaningful & loving. Life is too short to waste on trivial pursuits, & I prefer being alone to being in a relationship that doesn't meet my standards.

Sixth, I have no idea whether you cut classes from grade school at 15, but please don't impose such shortcomings on me...& with the world the way it is now, I would be more inclined to run for the hills than I would to go bounding into a doorway after a naked & willing woman I knew nothing about.

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

FINALLY...HAVE YOU BEEN READING THE OTHER POSTS IN THIS THREAD? I haven't been the least bit critical of John's work here, & I have only once written something tongue-in-cheek [in another thread] when he did a cartoon depiction that looked different to me (& apparently to a few other people as well) than John intended.

Regarding this particular painting, I simply stated that the feeling I got from this image wasn't pleasant.

There is no requirement that all feelings generated by art or craft be warm, fuzzy, & pleasant.



"...& with the world the way it is now, I would be more inclined to run for the hills"

... and folks around you would be more inclined to yell, "quick, men - raise the drawbridge - lest he comes back"



I won't be party to turning these boards into a theater for flame wars.

I was engaged in a discussion of sorts with John, he chose to discontinue it. I found it interesting & tried to re-establish it...obviously he doesn't wish to continue.

I simply responded to your post with a thoughtful response.

If you find it amusing to taunt benevolent posters & our gracious host is willing to tolerate it, that's fine with me...

...but from henceforth, I'm ignoring you.

Peace be with you.


Interesting stuff. I haven't been ignoring this thread as much as I've been distarcted with other work.

I find it hard to respond to long, over-bearing comments. I find three to four well-chosen sentences is plenty to respond to,

By the way:Wyeth, Hopper and Bellows.


In Bangkok, I saw young girls standing on top of tables and bars hanging on poles or dancing. Their faces were blocked by the door to the joint as I stood outside peering in. To me this image said "sex is available." For me this piece of art imitated life. Art can be both beautiful and disturbing. I prefer that which evokes non disturbing feelings. I admire equally those which do the opposite. Bravo!



VERY well said!

Thank you for your support.


There is no 'most probable' scenario here. There is only one's personal opinion on what he/she is seeing. We each define what we see based on our own experiences and our own predelications. Which is why I stopped writing poetry...I got tired of people arguing with me about what I thought .

I wish I could afford this piece for my wall, but that's true of most of Mr. Cox's artwork. For some reason, to me she expresses melancholy. Something's happened, but you don't, and never will, know just what.



Good point.

I didn't write, "most probable, PERIOD"... I wrote, "most probable, GIVEN"...

Given was used as a qualifier in order to make it clear that I was writing about my viewpoint, & I was clear that it wasn't my expectation that anyone else adopt it.

There was never any intention to argue, & the point was essentially settled in the first 9 posts of the thread.

Somebody stirred the puddin' after it was done. To pick nits after those posts is to get lost in the quagmire.

If you really enjoy writing poetry, then WRITE. With a few learned skills, it's easy enough to disarm an antagonist.

D@%# the critics--full speed ahead!!!


John Cox is a painter, cartoonist, and illustrator for hire. For information about purchasing existing work or commissioning new work, contact him by e-mail at john555cox [at] hotmail.com.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 18, 2007 1:40 PM.

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