Left Behind Like An Orphan
Portrayal – A boy alone on an island, holding a red balloon running toward the water when he sees a sailboat come in. The painting is striking and beautiful, and like all art it can be interpreted in diverse ways. Perhaps it’s a joyful and carefree spectacle, with bright colors and the boy going toward some kind of happiness that he envisions is on that boat. It’s certainly a valid point of view, but that just doesn’t quite fit for me.
I think it’s a very sad scene. The world he is currently in, is represented by the beach of course which looks uninhabited. There are no other people around, no birds, animals, crabs or even shells. The sand is bare, without footprints from any kind of creature. It also doesn’t look inviting the way the sand does on a typical beach. The light is fading and the shadow is already behind him. He’s probably anxious that soon the darkness will cover everything and he’ll be trapped there. So in desperation, he runs to a symbol of hope.
That symbol is the boat, one he hopes has people (love) on it, who will bring him warmth and affection. It’s curious that the sail is red since sails are not naturally that color, and the sun wouldn’t turn it red in that type of sky. The boy’s balloon is also red, the only thing of beauty around and something he holds on tightly to; hope. I would say that he’s projecting his hope onto the boat and seeing the red there, even though it’s likely going to turn up empty.
There are no people on board and the water separates him from his ideal. He’s been forgotten in his parent’s eyes, an orphan at home in the emotional sense. His way of keeping sane is to hold tight to the balloon and see what he wants (needs?) to see, so that his fantasy can keep him going day after day. The alternative is to shut down which is like giving up on life, something kids can’t do, or to to endure the despair, something kids (and most adults) can’t tolerate.
Hopefully, a mature uncle, aunt, teacher or coach will come along one day and SEE him, validate him and give him a small slice of what he needs, which is invaluable to the boy for when he grows up. That little bit, is enough to be a model for him of what unconditional love is, and he can then use it to validate himself once grown up.
“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.” – Mother Teresa
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