Scary Paintings

General / 12 August 2019

What Really Makes a Painting Scary?

I really don't see my own art as scary, that would be rather silly. But I do strive to make it weird and sometimes difficult to look at. And if someone else sees it as scary, that's a great thing. Most of the time I believe I miss the mark, the sweet spot where your painting needs to be in order to be viewed as "scary".

But what makes a painting scary, really? In any creepy or macabre art I firmly believe that there needs to be some sort of abstraction – or rather a distortion of reality in order to make a painting, or work of art, scary. It's in the space between the real and surreal that you can explore some truly horrifying stuff. Take Francis Bacon for example, one of my favorite painters of all time. His art is representational in a sense, but there is also a great deal of abstraction. You really aren't quite sure of what you're looking at.

Dark Art Should Not Tell the Whole Story

It's just like in film. Imagine if you'd see the Xenomorph from Alien in full daylight fifteen minutes into the movie. It would just be a big puppet weirdly walking around on all four legs. Not that scary. You need to engulf that thing in darkness. Hide it – in order to make it terrifying. That's a big problem with modern horror today. You show the monster way too early, and by doing so you ruin the whole mystery.

It's the same with dark paintings. Don't give it all away to soon. I'm not saying I am there yet, but I do try to make a part of my paintings very abstract. With all the "gore" and stuff. But there is a part that is real, something that is human. A detail on a face – that gets through all the darkness and resembles something that you're familiar with.

Body Horror and Scary Paintings

This is just one thing that I personally find rather scary. In film, one of the few things that actually scare me is body horror. A person that is being transformed into something against their will. Like The Human Centipede for example. Hey, I don't love the film – but the concept is truly horrifying. The people that are being forcefully turned into this human centipede have no way of returning back to their normal life, they are truly f-ed, and you know it. That is scary. It's the same for movies like Hostel, The Fly, Tusk and so on. I just personally find them very disturbing.

I try to incorporate that aspect into my creepy paintings. Transforming the human body into something hideous. Most of the time I fail, but I try.

What's your take on scary paintings? What makes a painting scary to you?

Also, don't forget to check out my store and see if there's any dark art that you'd like to purchase!