How to Appreciate Paintings #83: The title of a painting (Part 4)

Art exhibition in Singapore. ARTualize is the only art gallery in Singapore that lets you rent paintings for your home. The artist Low Hai Hong is discussing a painting, a painting of the wayang kulit puppet from Indonesia, with a lady at his solo art exhibtion.


The title of the painting does not change the painting but can significantly affect the response to the painting.

We may not realize it, but we are easily influenced by words. Words can have such strong connotations that our emotions are unconsciously aroused and our thoughts are automatically conjured when we see or hear them.

Hence when we read the title of a painting, we can be steered to a certain response to the painting without us being fully aware of it.

Let’s say we are looking at a painting that has a bunch of tall trees in daylight.

If the painting is titled “Botanic Gardens”, we immediately place the painting in the Botanic Gardens that we are familiar with, and we start to think about what we know about that place. We feel that the painting is full of greenery that is positive and calming.

If the painting is titled “The Woods”, we become a bit lost because it is a place we are unfamiliar with. We start to associate with forests or nature reserves that we have watched on TV or read in books. We feel that the painting is mysterious and dark.

If the painting is titled “The Sunset”, we forget to wonder where and what the trees are but start to recall memories of sunsets we have experienced. We feel that the painting is full of serene warmth.

Of course we still look at the painting and see what is in the painting besides the title, but impact of the few words of the title cannot be ignored. We may unconsciously try to fit the painting to the title, instead of using the title only for reference. We may uncomfortably realize the glaring inconsistencies between the title and the painting and be prompted to think more deeply.

How to appreciate paintings? The title of the painting can have a significant impact on the painting by influencing the viewer’s response to the painting.

Learn more about how to appreciate paintings at

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