Round Six: Creepy Children
Hikari Shimoda vs Ana Bagayan
There’s something quite wonderful about creepy children. Granted, I don’t really want to run into any in real life, but they can certainly creep up a horror movie. I suppose it’s the conflict between expected childhood innocence and unexpected sadistic tendencies that makes for a winning result. I certainly find that these child sadists seem to feature in film, but not as much in art. Maybe it is due to the type of art I search for, but I find that there is an older subject matter in general. Often you can find the nubile teen look that exposes the cusp of childhood and womanhood, but rarely do I find simplistic childhood. And perhaps even here simplistic childhood would be a stretch, as these creepy children are far from simple.
What I like about the first image (Shimoda):
The colour palate is to die for. I love art that restrains itself and can stick to a simple colour palate, like Shimoda does so well here. The pinks and yellows work wonderfully with a young girl and feminine innocence. Yet, Shimoda creates a rather sinister little bunny. Physically normal, our little lady has a vacant focus on her expression. While she doesn’t look at us, we can see she is focused on something – not the flower she appears to look at, but something that is formulating inside her (presumably deranged) mind. I love how Shimoda has managed to capture this, as I imagine it would be quite difficult. The bunny ear headband also adds a creepy element. There is something about the merging of humans and animals that will always get to me. And here, while superficially innocent (what is wrong with a child wanting to wear bunny ears?) there is something distinctly off about the way she wears them. Perhaps it isn’t even that, but they add to the unsettled nature of the image. Another aspect I like is the background work. While mainly clouds, the piece to the right of her becomes a fish, suspended and floating. It has an eye and gills and scales that discretely merge out of the cloud. Not only is this another animal addition, but it guides me to imagine how our little lady sees the world. The slight surrealism connects with what I first mentioned about what she is seeing – and while we don’t know, we can at least be certain that it is not a normal or literal reality. A truly wonderful piece!
What I like about the second image (Bagayan):
Bagayan’s image is somewhat more literal than Shimoda’s. Not entirely literal due to the cat wearing a wee jacket and tie, but you get where I am going. The painting style is more realistic, and while somewhat cartoonish, each element is presented to be truth – there stands a girl who hold a knife, that is the reality of the scene. Our leading lady not only holds the knife with confidence and the ability to utilise it, but cocks her head in such a way that tells us not to mess with her. She is powerful, and exudes awareness well above her age. I kind of see this piece as a deranged Alice in Wonderland interpretation. Instead of the white rabbit with a clock, we have a cat with a mirror. Instead of blonde Alice, we have a brunette Alice whose blue and white outfit has a masculine (and thus powerful) energy. She is pretty, yet she is not a sweet girl. She is a knowing girl who might be after you if you’re not careful. Her animal minions will be willing accomplices, and the crow lingering in the background just tells us death is on the doorstep. Bagayan has done a superb job here and I could stare at this piece for hours – it really is composed so effectively. I think this will be a hard one for me to pick!
Both images are great. I love them both. Shimoda gives us a childhood innocence left unattended – a piece that reminds us of the imagination of children and the more negative places they can go if that way inclined. Our little bunny walks vacantly towards her desires. But then Bagayan also delivers an excellent piece. An older girl whose essence is strong and knowing. A bad Alice if you will. Enticed into the darkness of nature and animals and ready to get you without a hint of emotion. Those cold eyes allowing no sympathy for any victim.
Both creepy children. Both great pieces. But how do I decide!? I think I will give this round to Shimoda (just!) as the creepiness is a little higher in my opinion. Little bunny could be a ghost after all, and while children with knives can do damage, a ghost child could do a whole lot more.
Do you agree? Let me know who you would crown winner.