Ophelia (art) - digital painting of a doll by Barbara Agreste


Dolls - Why do I like dolls so much? I suppose because they are creepy...

I love dolls.

If I could I would buy an entire collection of them: dolls of all kinds.


It was very interesting to discover that there are so many dolls out there in the market, just by searching on the internet I found entire forums on dolls, not Barbies, but many versions of the most refined, strange, and unusual dolls for collection.

Three years ago I bought a doll from Korea, a beautiful piece of art, and with it I made a lot of digital and oil paintings. I am still doing it, my research with the doll seems to have no end, I have infinite questions for the doll, therefore I keep photographing it.



Because of the fact that my doll was actually designed by another artist, I had to digitally modify her face features in the photographs. If I hadn’t done that, I would probably have made my artwork about somebody else’s art. So the figure in my paintings look slightly different from how the original doll looks (the original is basically not recognizable).

All of my artwork with dolls can be viewed at: www.repticula.net


Why do I like dolls so much? I suppose because they are creepy. If you think about antique porcelain dolls, there is something so sinister about them that it is worth looking deeper into the subject and ask yourself why this is. As humans we are all sinister as much as those dolls who were made to represent us.

As God may have created humans to match his or her own image and semblance, humans have created dolls in the same manner, to stand in the place of God, only to realize that whatever could resemble their image returned the mortal aspect of them. A doll is a broken love. A doll is a token from the past, a leftover, an envelope, a shell…

It reminds me that I used to be a child once upon a time, a nice well dressed cuddled child, so fragile and so defenseless, so pliable: the doll mirrors back to me all of these things. Even thought the doll is just an object, if I put on it a beautiful dress I can have the feeling of having returned to a time of happiness and love when the radiant eyes of the child expect things to go right: they expect life to be forever wonderful and dreamy.

Some women may identify so much with dolls because they have got two or more characteristics in common with them. One of these characteristics is the “object”. A woman placed like an ornament in a golden house feels similar to a doll. A beautiful woman may ask herself if she looks like one: beauty is the other common feature, fragility the third, a doll is easily unmounted, and women’s physical strenght is weaker than men’s.

The fragility of a doll is mixed with its sinister beauty and misterious, hidden, and forgotten soul: the unresponsive imagined soul of the mystified object. They make me think about something or someone forgotten long time ago that starts to walk and glance back again. The doll’s eyes are vacuous, and this is terribly creepy, and terribly sad if I identify with that look, and put my own past in there.

Are women supposed to have a soul, a subjectivity completely free from the subliminal and interwoven ties placed by the continuous quest for how to be perfect like a doll, good like a doll, frozen like one? Can the subject, deeply identifying with an object as such, exist without a residual internal conflict, without inevitably feeling like a container or a leftover? Is it possible to be both human and plastic?

I’ll keep putting make-up on the dolls I find… And I’ll keep taking pictures of them.

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Dolls - Ophelia (art, paintings) series by Barbara Agreste