It feels spooky – it feels strange.
Whenever I see this painting I feel compelled to stop and look, and immediately I feel a sense of strangeness.
There is one figure in the painting. Only one. No sign of anybody else; no lights in the windows; no movement on the river; no living thing at all apart from the lone man.
He’s surrounded by a white outline. An aura? A protection? A barrier? Is he an outcast? Does he feel isolated and lonely? Or perhaps he’s happy to have the town to himself and is enjoying having the space.
The dark sky with the moon – or is it the sun with dark clouds? Is it night or day? And is the sky threatening doom, or is it peaceful and calming? Is it a weight hanging over the man – or is his mind having a dark vision?
Then there are the houses. They remind me of the colourful houses in parts of Bristol – Redcliffe Parade for example – you’ll have better ideas. As I continue looking, I see that the roofs of the houses also have a white outline. Like the man’s outline. I have the same questions for the houses.
When you stand in front of the painting – it’s in the Friends’ Gallery – you can see how thick the paint is. It’s almost sculpture – something that doesn’t come across in a paper copy. The thick paint makes the whole thing feel more intense.
So many questions.