A couple of months ago, I was having brunch with some writer friends. As is the case with certain types of cafes, there were a whole bunch of unframed paintings on the walls available for purchase. One of them in particular caught my attention and I spent the next couple of hours trying to figure out exactly what it was that made it so remarkable. It wasn’t the kind of art I’d normally find all that interesting or attractive — for one thing, there was a lot of pink. I don’t do pink. It gives me hives. But by the end of brunch, although I still hadn’t pinned down exactly what it was about the painting that I loved so much, I knew that I wanted to buy it. Needed to buy it, even. So I put my name down and the girl in the cafe put a sold sticker next to the canvas and this week I was able to finally go back and bring it home to hang in my office.
I still absolutely adore it, and I still can’t say exactly why this is so. I love the expression on the girl’s face, which seems — to me — to be vulnerable and frightened and brave all at the same time. Like she’s facing up to something she really, really doesn’t want to face up to — especially not in her dressing gown with only a small white fox as an ally — but damn it, she’s not going to back down any time soon. That fox looks pretty determined as well. And clever and wise (which are not the same things). A good ally for a pink-haired girl in a scary situation to have, I’d say.
I also love the brash, freehand style and — though you can’t tell this from the photo — the physicality of the paint and brushmarks on the canvas. Tracks left by the artist; unvarnished, unhidden. And I like the sense of incompleteness about the work — both the painting itself and the story it’s telling. Though there is nothing missing, nothing I would want to change.
But none of what I’ve just said manages to explain precisely why I had to have this painting hanging on my wall. I just did. I needed it. I love it. No further explanation required. And that’s all you can really ask of art, I think. That it should speak it your soul, with absolutely no need for justification.
The painting is called “Girl Holding Fox” and the artist is Ingrid de Ridder, although I have no idea who she is beyond being a woman who hung some canvases in a cafe in Balaclava. She doesn’t come up in google, although she might one day, so I hope she doesn’t mind that I took a photo of her work and put it on my website. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to have a talk with a pink-haired girl and her fox about this novel I’m meant to be writing.