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24" x 48"
oil on canvas

Playing with juxtapostions: old art/new art, wall/paper, western aesthetic/eastern aesthetic...

Comments (52)


Maybe not what you intended but I see the shadow of two women in burqas passing by the wall. The title only re-enforces that idea or inspires it (shrug). Just a simple opinion.


I admit this painting is a bit murky. More like a Rorschach test than a definitive opinion.

I don't know. There are many potential dimensions of symbolism, including picking apart "what" "lies" "beneath", the torn picture, the relative time periods implied, etc., but I'm not sure I'd call it murky.

I think the burqas are evident, though it is interesting that Mutt sees it as shadows and not as part of an ancient wall painting. Yet another dimension of symbolism. :)


"More like a Rorschach test".
Rats! I flunked my last one!


Hmmm.....until ya'll got off on them juxtapositions, age, symbolism, relative time periods, burqas, etc., I was kinda thinkin' "Easter Island".

Easter Island?! I'm sorry to say, you've flunked this one, too, G. ;)

In light of G's comment, I think I'll concede that it's murky.

It's lookin' like a camel to me now.



I went with the idea of shadows for two reasons, first because the texture of the wall can be seen even though there are definite details to the "shadows" independent of the wall. Second, because of the positioning between the "shadows and the picture. The picture would have to be non-traditionally high on the wall. So to me it imparts the idea of a shadows being cast. It could just be short women or a high placed picture.

As for symbolism, the torn picture could be indicating a woman who has been violently hurt. The tape hanging the picture would a mark how society under values women while the crack in the wall would reflect an overall weakening of the structure or culture in general. But that is the thing with symbolism, it all just made up by whoever sees it.

I would be curious what symbolism others see and what John is really saying


One other item, the picture of the woman itself; she is alone, naked, her face is turned away and could be in a partial fetal position. It could be interrupted as someone who deep down (the naked part) feels isolated, afraid, unimportant and faceless. Since the background is a landscape or open, it could mean that society is what makes her feel that way.

It could also mean I have spent too much time think about this.

So, uh, *ahem!* I'm the only one who saw phallic symbolism and all the attending layers of meaning in the burqua'd penises?


Sick....just sick.

And a little sexy.

Joan, yep, you were the only one. But now all I see are a couple of dick heads. Good job. btw, I'm 89% sure that was John-speak for "BINGO!"

So, does it say more about me, or more about John?

I could write an entire treatise on the repressed sexual hatred and fear that the Muslim man has in regard to Woman as a sexual entity.

If he owns women, he fears losing them; if he has no money he reviles what is out of his reach. Be he a religious zealot then he fears his own thoughts about sex. He cloaks women to cloak his own impotent sexuality, insecurity, and identity.

It is the ultimate sexual denial. A cloaking device for the phallus.

[/overactive imagination]

Joan, it's not a competition. The penises say more about you both equally.

Seriously, though, I think you are spot on and that it is genius, both in John's subtlety of it in the image and in your identification and explanation. It not only balances the symbolism of the piece, but it also magnifies the theme.

I wish I had seen it and John called my comment "a little sexy". It could happen.

Not competing, Kevin. Don't make me use emoticons, dammit!


Emoticons are handy in this cold void. I should've sprinkled a few myself.

But I don't think your adding them would've changed my response. :)

Mutt, I like your analysis. Symbolism may be "made up", as in "not necessarily intended by the artist", but it still requires reasonable and consistent justification which I think you've provided. I can identify the start of a several threads, but you've expounded upon them with greater detail than I've yet considered.

I'd be somewhat surprised if John commented on the symbolism in much detail. Perhaps it comes from an artist's hope that his art might be even greater than he intended. Or perhaps it is not to detract from others' enjoyment by revealing that some of them were "wrong".


Fascinating stuff. You've hit upon the conundrum of art: What happens when a piece gets more attention than it deserves and the artist is left having to a) lie and make believe EVERYTHING was on purpose or b) make the viewer feel foolish for trying to read into the piece at all.

I'm just glad you think it's worth considering. Which I is why I like to paint.

Thanks, John. Your art is definitely worth considering. And strangely enough, the comments on this thread have helped me to appreciate it even more.

OMG, now I'm seeing symbolism in Joan's end-tag. It reads "loveractive imagination", right?? :)


Thanks Kevin but as for the amount of analysis I put in to it I blame it all on..

I admit this painting is a bit murky. More like a Rorschach test than a definitive opinion.

So I just had to go into greater detail.



Just wanted to say that I love your work and am sad that you're no longer posting of Cox & Forkum. Regardless, this is one of my favorite pieces of your work.


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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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