Art Critcism: Rodeo Cowboy With A Mona Lisa Smile

The art series rages on with another reader submitted painting.

All I know is that this painting comes from a restaurant. Given the presence of a cow and its boy, I think we can assume it is hanging in a steak house. It could be in a seafood restaurant, but I think that a painting of a rodeo would only hang in the most twisted of seafood joints.


That’s A Lot Of Bull

Here we have a painting of a cowboy riding a bull. I presume he is participating in a rodeo, but he could be using the animal for transportation. There isn’t really a lot of background in the painting to put the activity of the bull and his rider into perspective.

The bull is a bit out of proportion. Yes, the bull’s back-end is farther away from the viewer. You’d expect it to appear smaller. In this case, it is far smaller. By my calculations, for the bull’s hindquarters to appear that small the animal would have to be in the neighborhood of twenty-six feet long.

It strikes me that even as he kicks his hindquarters in the air, the bull’s face is the essence of bovine serenity. The presence of a man on his back isn’t the emotional experience it is for other bulls. Serenity is the bond between this animal and his rider.

Serenity Now

The Mona Lisa.

The Mona Lisa. Don’t even get me started on this thing. I mean, who has skin that color? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The cowpoke looks out of the painting with a placid gaze that doesn’t match what you’d expect to see from someone perched atop a bucking bull. He and the bull do not look bothered by their situation. One rides on the others back. The other tries to buck the one off his back. It’s what they do, day after day; there’s no need to get excited about it.

Examine the cowboy’s Mona Lisa smile. Like Leonardo DaVinci’s masterpiece, the smile in this painting leaves me with the impression that the cowboy has a secret. Maybe he knows the fix is in and he’s going to win the rodeo. Maybe he knows what the Mona Lisa is smiling about. Whatever the reason, the smile doesn’t match the fight or flight reaction I believe the body would impose on anyone in this situation.

Perhaps the smile tips off that this painting is a DaVinci. The work has many of the stylistic traits of the other works of Melissa DaVinci, though without seeing the painting it is hard to know if it is a copy.

Just When You Think It Can’t Get Weirder

What’s more bizarre than a placid cowboy riding a twenty-six foot long bull? How about the artist’s decision to paint in what appear to be two sea anemones, a bell-shaped one near the cowboy’s right hand and another multi-branched one near the cow’s left shoulder?

I’ve been assured that this is not any sort of camera flash reflection, nor is it the work of a vandal. They are part of the artist’s vision.

Throwing a sea anemone is not a cool way to express emotion at any sporting event, even a rodeo. Even an experienced analyst like me can’t explain the presence of these ocean creatures in this scene. Perhaps it is another sad example of painting after a couple doses of Ny-Quil.

A piece of fine art like this should be carefully placed. I’m not sure where it should be hung, but I do think it is not appropriate for anyplace where food is served. I would be too distracted by it to eat.

My thanks to the anonymous art lover who photographed and sent me this painting to critique. In your travels, if you see fine art that needs to be criticized, please whip out your phone, shoot a photo and email it to me. I’ll appreciate it very much.


26 Comments on “Art Critcism: Rodeo Cowboy With A Mona Lisa Smile”

  1. Todd Pack says:

    Cowboys have a saying: “Grab the bull by the horns.” This expression has moved from the ranch and into everyday life and is usually taken to mean, “Take control of the situation,” or “Life life to the fullest.” The horns of the bull in this painting, however, have been blunted. The cowboy, rather than looking tough and rugged, like those in the works by the great Western artist Frederick Remington (1861-1909), appears almost feminine. Therefore, I think it’s clear the obvious was commenting on the emasculation of the male archetype in the late 20th century. Also, sea anemone.

  2. AiXeLsyD13 says:

    Were I the artist, I would title the piece… “F___ you, the bull you rode in on, and your creepy air-breathing jellyfish!”

  3. Ooooo…they’re sea anemones. I thought they were weird jellyfish. Sea anemones make much more sense.

  4. Debbie says:

    Well, I do good to draw stick people, but I think even I could’ve done as good as this artist! What’s with the basketball-sized lump near the bull’s tail? Or the lump on his neck? What’s this cowboy holding on to — besides the weird lightning flashy things? Why is he wearing a long sleeved shirt on his left side and a short-sleeved one on the right? Why is he wearing a full vest, when everybody knows only fringed, open vests are acceptable Western wear? So many questions, so few answers!

    • omawarisan says:

      The short and long sleeve shirt! That’s why he’s smiling. You are a critic who cannot be criticized.

      I wonder if there’s something similar with the Mona Lisa? Maybe she has on bloomers with one long and one short leg.

  5. Andrew says:

    But didn’t all the greats paint after a few doses of Nyquil? Or was that ether?

  6. Betty says:

    My first glance at the “painting” screamed intestines, heart and other assorted organs. I’d run screaming from the building if I walked into a restaurant and saw that.

  7. That painting (the first one) gives me the creeps. And what’s with the flat horns on the bull?

    • omawarisan says:

      I think that’s a safety thing. You can smash your forehead on the bull’s spine until your brain is jello fluff, but it’s dangerous to get stuck by a bull’s horn.

  8. Oh, thank God. For a moment I thought you weren’t going to mention the sea anemones. And I was forced to think “Just me, then? Again?”

  9. Rich Crete says:

    I’m with Debbie on the sweater vest……total head-scratcher. But I do like the asymmetrical bull nostrils….very realistic. I think the cowboy is holding an umbrella drink in his left hand and trying not to spill.

  10. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    It’s a look of distraction on his face. He was all into the moment and then the anemones appeared out of nowhere. I’d title it, “Six Seconds With Sea Anemones.” And then I’d burn it.

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