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Nude with a Bandaged Hand

Valdemar Väli Nude with a Bandaged Hand 1946 oil, canvas 100 × 73 cm

Valdemar Väli’s Akt seotud käega [Nude with a Bandaged Hand] is the kind of painting that creates several riddles at the narrative level. There are works that amiably open themselves up to interpretation. Their objective is not to hide anything from the viewer, but rather to show something to them. Symbolic levels, mythological references and other such aspects are woven into what is visible. We are quite readily given the ends of the threads that we can start unravelling. Akt seotud käega, on the contrary, hides more than it demonstrates and for this reason, we can already be convinced that we will never arrive at a solution even before starting our guesswork. The mystery already starts with the model’s face, which is turned away and does not look at us. She seems to be eyeing the mirror that is placed on the table, but what exactly does she see there? The symbolism of the white sheets is also enigmatic. Their abundance is striking, among other things leaving the impression as if the furniture had been covered by white dustsheets long since upon departure, but now they have been pushed aside for some reason. And of course, the model’s bandaged wrist raises numerous questions but leaves them all unanswered. That little detail is placed right at the heart of the painting. Its meaning is stressed but not a single hint is given. This has an annoying effect, just as the contrast between the element referring to trauma and vulnerability and the naked and defenceless body also has a disturbing effect. Alongside all of this, however, Väli has paid particular attention to the painting’s colouring, admittedly complying with the requirements of the era by remaining within the framework of the realistic canon, yet managing to also offer sufficient individuality at the same time.