Jesse Auersalo is a contemporary illustrator who lives between New York and Helsinki. He has a very personal style, dark, soft and intrigue, as we will see in the present post. I haven’t found the title and the date of this illustration, so I have not a clear reference of what this illustration is. I have proposed the title of Phantom maiden.
A first stage analysis drives us to recognize a female head framed in a vertical rectangle, focusing our attention in the face. We cannot determinate exactly how old she is, she is neither mature nor a girl, she apparently is a maiden. Also the monochrome colors gives a feeling of atemporality. Her features are proportionated and symmetrical, which means this is a beautiful face.
In a second stage we find some anomalies. First of all, she has no eyes, her sockets are empty. She cannot see anything, she looks like a phantom. This is one of the dark characteristic of this illustration. She does not provoke fear but intriguer. Just in the zone of the sockets there are strange eyebrows, they are wavy, like little serpents.
Another interesting element is that the head of the maiden is covered by a hood, that could mean that she wears a cloak. This element refers to a non contemporary element. She belongs to another age or another world: she is medieval or comes from a fairy world. I think this decontextualisation contributes to the mystery of this illustration.
Another interpretation related to the hood is that she could be a nun or, further more, she is the Virgin Mary. This is not a probable interpretation, but it could be an interesting point of discussion.
The last elements to analyze are the unknown liquid that covers partially the face and some little symbols or marks in the face too. The liquid damp is uniform near the eyes but drips irregularly near the mouth and nose. It´s like a terrible crying of two empty eyes: the tears emerge from all around the eyes. This element could run also with the religious interpretation: the liquid could be the whole tears of Virgin Mary at the death of Jesus Christ. Anyway this is another mysterious element.
At last, there are two marks in the face: a kind of star at the right side of the mouth and some irregular lines in the left side of the face. I have no interpretation for them but looks like a sign of the author.
After the description of the elements I have no a unique interpretation, this image is a mystery and I hope you may reflect about it. Beauty and darkness melt in a very intrigue image.