He is of the seeing visions
His strokes reveal them
In a rush-of color, of madness
And his head is the highest center
It must confront its enemy,
The hands-resist him,
Like the secret of his birth
His presence is the sanctum heartbeat
Felt in darkness and in passion
Its sound the sole gift to that silence
– R. Ponseti, 1971
Inspired by his childhood photograph that was taken in a Chicago apartment and his ex-wife’s poem, Bill Stoneham created The Hands Resist him in 1972. He opened up an art show in 1974, while in a 2 year contract with Charles Feingarten Gallery and the painting got the most recognition out of all his work. He explained in his website that the little boy represents him, the doll is an imaginary guide and companion, the glass door is the thin veil between waking and dreaming and the hands are other lives.
But in 2000, it gained internet and overall popularity, after a California couple decided to auction it on eBay, when their four and a half daughter claimed to have seen ‘the children fighting each other’ and would ‘come out in the room during the night’. It caused a huge amount of spine-tingling reactions such as, people feeling ill and about to pass out, having strange visitors at night, children crying in horror when seeing the pictures, but some were just too afraid to look at the painting.
Apparently, before it was auctioned, three deaths occurred after its release. Feingarten died in 1981, a Los Angeles Times art critic, Henry Seldis, reviewed his art show and died in 1978. Actor John Marley(The Twilight Zone, The Godfather) purchased the painting at the show, then later sold it before his death in 1984.
I must say, Hands Resist Me is quiet mysterious in its own way.
The first time I saw the painting, my initial thought was, ‘There’s something going on inside this thing. And it’s a very interesting artwork.’ To me, it looks like the little boy had ran away, but he can’t quiet figure out where to go, mostly because trouble follows him everywhere. Then, he came across a toy store with a doll displayed outside, but there’s something unusual about putting a merchandise out in public. So I thought, the store is probably meant to lure children and trap them inside. Note how the doll has empty sockets and kind of squeezing a tube like object. And the hands seem like they are knocking and tapping at the door. Spooky much?
- What was your initial reaction when you saw the painting?
- Did it somehow made you feel creeped out?
- Do you think your perspective or interpretation would change, if you have found the painting before it was popularized as haunted?Yunick Cataytay
The Hands Resist Him in Bill Stoneham’s website:
Article talking about Stoneham’s life and his painting:
Another article talking about the painting, but with close up photos:
Information about the Ebay auction: