Emotion of Perversion and Terror: Also indicated in the title, this feeling is mostly conveyed in the twisted head on a freakishly elongated neck, looking directly at us with a wicked expression, in a completely dark room. This almost makes the viewer see himself inside a horror movie, where evil can come to life.
The Black Halo as an Unholy Symbol: Unlike the divine aspect of the halo, a symbol often associated with bliss, the sacred and light (in angels and saints), here, the profanation of this holy symbol is representative of something else entirely. The dark atmosphere and the dark halo connects to the fallen angel, as it is something used to represent the devil itself. The black halo is a symbol of evil.
Personification of Perversity: The representation of the devil as the ultimate embodiment of evil and perversion, is consistent with the portrayal of the figure, with a twisted head, elongated neck, the bear shoulder, and the deceiving expression in the eye and intangible smile. The representation is also connected to the devil’s daughter.
Ambiguity: The human figure in image is very much androginous. This quality, of something that can’t be defined as either feminine or masculine, is very much associated with the ability of evil to transform and disguise itself, becoming what the eye wishes to see.
The Colour Black: The artist takes advantage of this sterile colour of power and authority, a colour that demands respect, according to his words, to intensify the macabre quality of the composition. This colour is often linked to witchcraft, black magic, violence, darkness and, obviously, evil. The black paint opposes to the white paper, reinforcing its negative role, not only in compositional terms, but also in symbolic terms.
The composition centres the subject perfectly and strictly follows the rule of thirds to emphasise the main midpoints – the halo, the eye, the mouth, and the shoulder.
Shape: The human form and shapes are twisted, elongated and distorted.
Line and Surface: The different textures suggested by the differing line treatment, for example in the halo, where the line seems to be scratched in a web, in the hair, each line is softly employed, and in the dress, the block of lines creates a blurred and soft surface (the same for the background).
Colour: The artist only used black in the composition, the variations of tonality is exclusively given by the line work, which means it’s not diluted. The white in the composition is the paper itself.
Light: The image possesses a strong contrast of light and dark, which helps to dramatise the subject. The profile, the neck and shoulder are well lit, contrasting with the shadows on the hair, halo and dress, against a pitch black room.
Drawing and Lithography: Redon worked closely with charcoal drawings and lithographs in black, for the speed of the process, capturing the artist’s vision in a quicker manner, and for its reproducibility into lithograph versions, which retain the same sketchiness and immediacy of the charcoal drawings.
Imagination: Redon relied on his imagination and searched for inspiration in his dreams. This source of inspiration proved to be crucial in his creative process, giving life to his own creatures.
Use of the Colour Black: The artist chose to work only with black in these compositions. For Redon, the black was the only colour that imposed respect, and devoid of any sensual qualities, as he wanted his bizarre creatures to be just that, devoid of any additional content.
Redon’s Noirs: The drawings and lithographs in black of Redon’s creatures (or “black things”), paved the path to surrealism. In this specific case, the subject is apparently a person and not a creature, but represents a perversion of the mind and the total extension of evil (devil), almost like the other creatures were its children, children of the macabre, the twisted and the wicked.
Precursor of Surrealism: These symbolic works that merged the natural and the fantastic, resulting in bizarre ‘monsters’, paved the grounds for Surrealists, as they often quoted his works in some way.