Riddles in the Dark is the title of what is arguably the most important chapter from the Hobbit in terms of seeding the story for Lord of the Rings. In it, Gollum challenges Bilbo to a game of riddles - if Bilbo wins, he lives and Gollum would show him the way out of the tunnel he was lost in. If he loses, Gollum would eat him.
What does this image have to do with it? Not much at all, except that as I was composing it, starting with just the model against a blank background, it reminded me of Gollum and how he would sit on his haunches. After adding in the misty background, it was really starting to scream RIDDLES IN THE DARK!!! Since it seemed an unavoidable title, which I love, I had to find what that would mean beyond the Hobbit reference, and given my tendency to mine the human psyche and all its idiosyncrasies for fodder, I decided to add the keys, which served as a puzzle to unlock, or secrets to uncover. The absurdity of the man being immobile, covering his face, possibly deliberately, struck me as a personality I know something about: one who deliberately blinds himself to the way out, while all around him, the answers dangle, waiting to be seized. Someone who needs confusion as fuel to proceed.
Riddles in the Dark, except the darkness is willful, and self-defeating, and the answers can be pretty obvious if you would only look around you!
Model: Ed Barron
Tags: Specialist and abstract
Portraits and people
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