'The Quandaries' (detail), 2017, by Timothy Alfred Cantor b.1969, oil on wood panel


"The Quandaries" of Tim Cantor's unexpected metaphors


Above all, we as people, as creature of reflection, are searching for meaning.

And as we uncover our meanings within this swarming populace, we continually toil to make our stories be heard.  We search for ways to weave our tales to shine brighter, stand out, and be interesting.  To do this, we must, as humans, be creative.  If we were to study this trait back far enough, perhaps we would find the origin of art itself.


Art, music, and poetry; in these ways, we rarely approach life straightforward.  Metaphors seduce our curiosities.  They call forth appreciation.  Being indirect, speculative, and dramatic, makes a work of art immersive.  We can trace the symbolic characteristics of our kindred back through time to some of the earliest writings and expressions of art in noted history.  Creative depiction has thoroughly proved itself to be a native impulse of our species.  As well, this unique quality is seemingly related to the growth of intelligence.  Seldom would a child draw a window and call it the sun.  Most often, they draw the sun―round in the sky with flames―and call it the sun.  They draw stick figures of their friends and pets.  But as they grow, and their minds evolve, they might draw a beast for a bully, or a dragon and call it the neighbors frightening dog.  They might draw a heart, and call it their mother.  Their inherent evolution begins to find routes to represent their emotions in more stirring, and touching, ways.


In the study of Tim Cantor’s paintings, as well as his writings, we could justly state that his heart is filled with eccentric passion on a tremendous scale.  To magnify his paintings we find astonishing care.  To read his thoughts we find profound significance.  His metaphorical usage to stage his endeavors is done with a discerning nature.  And it could be said that his paintings are wondrous examples of how far this reach is of human creativity.


His compositions are intricate, and their implications are not simple.  They often cross the lines of palpability, and need explanation to understand their intent.  And while Tim Cantor leaves much of this complexity up to us to pour over, his writings often open many doors to the connections between his imagery and meanings.  And yet, once they are connected, their effects becomes piercingly clear.  The beauty of the painting, the strangeness of the painting, becomes significant.  It makes the great leap from being appealing, to being important.


So often within his unexpected imagery, there are very unexpected deep personal statements about his fears and loves, his memories and dreams and hopes, and his long nightly abstractions.  We find his shyness in a mask.  His past in a window.  His indecision in the spark of thorns and bees and frantic red horses.  We feel his chaos and complication in the entanglement of a thousand gilded clockworks.  Entire compositions lay out elaborate stories filled with an upheaval of emotional drive.  All of these indicative elements, each with their own significance, play roles in shaping labyrinthine testaments that reach far into the soul of the artist, and meld into our own hearts as the observers.


With all that said, at first look, what do we see in his paintings?  Do we see beyond their unfeigned state?  The Quandaries, for example, is a grand composition that genuinely portrays Tim Cantor's nightly loneliness; fraught with an emphatic internal conflict between indecision and solace.  Nonetheless, on the face, The Quandaries is an extraordinarily versed, yet blatant painting of a deer on a bed that has disheveled its surroundings.  It stands irrationally inside an empty, doorless room.  The painting is precise and definitive.  Yet, staring upward into the light, the deer gazes, craves, and this is where we are pulled deeper, and begin to question.


Its eager stare is our first bold clue that there is so much more to this painting than outright appearances.  Its eyes long for the light as it cranes towards it.  As we look to Tim Cantor's narrative for The Quandaries, we read that the light that lures his deer, himself, is the outside world full of daylight, liveliness, and normalcy that contrasts his own secluded timetable.  The disorderly bed and its jumbled sheets wage the frustration of the unanswered questions that this painting appends.  What is in that light for the artist?  A greater life?  Or perhaps a far worse off fight?


While this question he leaves unanswered, the painting’s core goes evermore immersed.  For the quandary of 'whether or not to leave behind the seclusion of night' is merely the catalyst to a profound realization: it is his uncertainty and inner-turmoil that fuels his passion for creation.  Though unwanted, a nervous state of suspense keeps the mind in excitation, sparking the exact prescribed feelings that give rise to this soulful, feverish painting, as well as every other work of art that comes out of Tim Cantor's unrestful nights.


His metaphors not only find life in bewildering content, but they break the planes of singular meanings, forming alternate endings to varying scenarios.  Like novels built upon short stories, the subjects, each with their own significance, unite as something complete.


With likewise subject matter, and painted in the same year, Tim Cantor created The Wounded, which shadows the content and despair of The Quandaries, yet takes on an entirely different connotation.  Rather than the deer portraying the artist himself, as in The Quandaries, it plays the role of a grieved child trapped in the ravel of a hostile adult world.  Far reaching as it may be, this abstracted symbolic turn of the artist's mind is one of empathy.  Tangled in textiles, the painting creatively sympathizes the life of innocence; injured, restrained, and even killed in the malevolent chaos of mankind.  Their purity wounded by the weight of an aggressive and ever-feuding civilization.  With that heartbreaking understanding, it's hard to see the other hopeful half of this painting.  But there is indeed a promising side to this contrastive image.


Within the demeanor of the fawn’s expression, this encouraging pinch might, for some, be decipherable.  But, more than likely, one must essentially read Tim Cantor's words to root out his added awareness; an awareness that most people are genuinely kind in nature.  At its heart, the painting is a statement, showcasing the overshadowing negative impact that the few have on the many.  There is a plea to catch for this deer, and for the children it represents; to not lose hope for them in the madness of the wicked ― who are scarce in the scheme of things.




'The Quandaries,' (detail)

'The Quandaries,' concept I

'The Wounded' concept I

'The Qandaries' detail)

'The Wounded' 2017 oil on wood panel

'The Wounded' (detail)

Find out more

The Quandaries: descriptive poem


Read Tim Cantor's poem for this self-reflective painting, and discover his unique symbolic connections.


The Quandaries: Limited Edition


'The Quandaries' is available as a mixed-media limited edition, signed and gilded with original painted details by Tim Cantor.


The Wounded (Fawns): descriptive poem


Read Tim Cantor's poem for 'The Wounded' also titled 'The Fawns.'  A written verse of innocence in the seas of greed, and yet remains assured.