Picasso said paintings are just another way of keeping a diary…or in this case, holding a bizarre mystery, rather, a paranormal one.
Two paintings have created quite the buzz in the paranormal world with the strange occurrences that take place around them. Beliefs in cursed objects are real and portraits or human likenesses, whether carved or painted frequently become the focus of such legends. In folk belief, the notion of a picture falling from a wall is an omen of impending death — particularly if it’s a portrait and remains one of the most widespread modern superstitions. Similarly, eerie portraits whose eyes “seem to follow you wherever you go” have become a staple scene-setter in numerous horror flicks.
THE CRYING BOY
This painting’s tale came out of the blue one morning in 1985 when The Sun reported that a firefighter from Yorkshire was claiming there were undamaged copies of the painting of a boy with teardrops rolling down his face found quite often amidst the ruins of burned houses. He stated that no firefighter would allow a copy of the painting into his own house and over the next few months, The Sun and other publications ran several articles on house fires which suffered by people who had owned the painting. By the end of November, belief in the painting’s curse was widespread enough that The Sun was organising mass bonfires of the paintings, sent in by readers. It was said to lift the curse, you must give the painting to another or reunite the boy and a girl and hang them together.
The painting, which was created by Spanish artist, Bruno Amadio in 1969 was said to have painted a deaf and dumb Spanish street child by the name of Don Bonillo, who was between the ages of three or five years old at the time. Found in Madrid, the orphan boy had run away after seeing his parents die in a blaze and never spoke again. Strangely enough, wherever the boy settled, fires would mysteriously break out and he became known as Diablo or the Devil by the locals. Warned by a Catholic priest that the boy was jinxed, Amado nevertheless insisted on painting the boy and is rumoured to have tried to beat the curse out of him. When the artist’s studio burnt down in a blaze, he blamed the orphan and his career was likewise jinxed for evermore as no one wanted to buy his works. Years later, it has been said that Don Bonillo at the age of 19 died in a car accident, which exploded into flames. Nobody came forward to claim the body.
The Crying Boy paintings were mass reproduced in the 1980’s and made readily available in places like Woolworths and Boots.
THE HANDS RESIST HIM
In February 2000 the sudden appearance of a rather strange painting made its internet debut on eBay.com with the accompanying title of “Haunted Painting”. A title like that definitely attracts attention and it’s still discussed to this day whether the painting is genuinely haunted or not but even stranger though, is the reactions that the general public had when viewing the photos of the painting. The painting, which is not overtly Gothic or frightening does have a tinge of creepy to it and reports began coming in of strange reactions upon viewing the pictures. These included people growing violently ill or fainting, children screaming upon seeing the painting and observers being gripped by an “unseen entity”.
How did the painting end up on eBay? It was reportedly found abandoned behind an old brewery where a family took it home and hung it in their 4-year-old daughter’s room. One morning their daughter complained that the two children in the painting were “fighting” and “coming into the room at night.” Alarmed by this story, the father set up a motion-triggered camera in the room for the next three nights and while the camera shot several photos, one of them showed the little boy “seemingly exiting the painting under threat.” There is no firm evidence to substantiate these claims, but what is without doubt is that the bidding price of the painting shot up from a first bid of $199 to a final price of $1,025 in just 30 bids and viewed 30,000 times.
The Hands Resist Him was created by Oakland, Californian artist Bill Stoneham in 1972. The painting showed a little boy and little girl standing in front of a door. Disembodied hands floated in the blackness behind the door. In addition, something about the little girl is not quite right: her joints are hinged like an old-fashioned doll, and she is holding an object with wires sticking out of the top. Could it be a weapon? According to Stoneham, the boy is based on a photograph of himself from the age of 5 and the doorway is a representation of the dividing line between the waking world and the world of fantasy and impossibilities, while the doll is a guide that will escort the boy through it. The titular hands represent alternate lives or possibilities.
The painter had no idea his painting would spark such a ghost-storm. He admits, when he painted it, he said he had deliberately used Jungian and metaphysical symbolism. The door represented a gate to possibilities, and the hands represented “other lives.” He never intended it to be spooky, supernatural or even particularly disturbing. As for the “weapon,” he said it was a dry-cell battery with wires coming out the top, like the ones he used as a kid for his model planes. However, since the painting resurfaced with a new fanbase, his life has changed in many ways and inspired him to paint again for the first time in more than a decade.