Bear with me a minute here. This is an audience participation question, but it takes a bit to get there.

This all began with spite. There are artists who are motivated by love, by money, by awe and wonder, by religious fervor, by glory and despair. However, I’ve found that spite works for me. I can work up a pretty good painting for the express intent of sticking it in somebody’s eye. (Often the person inspiring this feeling never actually sees the piece at all, and that’s not a problem. I am ornery, but generally not actually malicious.) That I may spend ten hours on a piece merely to wreak vengeance, purely in my head, on a slight that took less than thirty seconds to type is probably overkill, but on the other hand, I have a painting at the end of it. But y’all knew that already.

Having posted my Orc Nouveau painting over at Elfwood, somebody of course took it upon themselves to rummage through my artwork and carefully locate the nudes and then tell me how disgusting they were and that nobody wants to see those parts of the body. Now, were I an enlightened soul, I would shed this like water off a duck’s back, because after all, I get this crap a lot. However, enlightenment is well and good, but indignation leads to art! And thus I promised the poster that they, specifically, by their protests, had led to more nudity in the world, and set out to draw something stark raving naked. But tasteful. Because tasteful nudity is the best revenge.

“Hmm,” thought Ursula, chewing the end of her stylus, “what can I do…”

And then an image came to me, in a blinding flash, more or less fully formed, like Athena boogying from the head of Zeus, of a nude trunk, from neck to mid-thigh, limbs and neck terminating in odd metal poles, inside a rectangular alcove in a concrete wall.

I thought “Okay, that wasn’t at all what I expected–I was thinkin’ Art Nouveau–but that IS pretty neat.”

But here’s the thing. It was so abrupt, and so crisp an image, that now I don’t know whether I had it because of an abrupt and crisp inspiration, or whether it’s something I’ve seen before. They warn you about copying when you start out in art, but they never warn you that eventually you’ll get old and forgetful and your brain stuffed full of visuals and you won’t be able to remember where they all go or how they’re filed! Generally I’d just shrug and plow ahead anyway–there are elements that are definitely all me, and the rest falls under “nothing new under the sun” but it’s such a distinctive image, and so unlike my norm, that I’m really wondering on this one.

So I’ve been digging around trying to figure out if it came from somewhere other than my own hindbrain. Some of the Lovecraft art of John Jude Palencar is kinda like what I’m thinking, but it’s not quite it, and tends to be tormented and alien with weird hooks sticking in it. And Gil Bruvel did a few things with people in square alcoves in things that might be walls, but they’re all like freaky mime things.

Anybody have any other ideas? Should I just say “Damn the torpedoes!” or is there some disembodied torso-in-a-box art, famed throughout the world, that I’ve somehow overlooking?

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