A chronology of demon faces from 1890 to 1902, which saw the tentative completion of Demon Downcast, one of the most frightening paintings of all time. Notice how he goes from typical Caucasian phenotype to straight up Pazuzu inhabiting Regan’s body in The Exorcist.
The face you see in this “last” demon painting is actually the “unfinished” result of countless fanatical reworkings. Vrubel famously went crazy after all.
Interestingly enough, the idea of the Caucasus as being a locus of demonic or supernatural activity is an old and strangely self-explanatory one. If you remember, the film actually opens in Northern Iraq, a mere stone’s throw from our native lands, and Pazuzu himself is the king of the demons of the wind in Assyrian and Babylonian mythology.
Perhaps this is because the Caucasian phenotype lends itself to demonic expression: a mass of curly purple-black hair, the greenish pallor of the skin, the petrified shadows cast by our cheekbones and noses, a grotesquely sensual mouth and bluish whites in our eyes that glower like pearls in a bed of velvet. Or because the temperament itself is in a word, devilish—prone to change, alternating between bouts of scheming joviality and intense gloom. Of course, it’s narcissistic because I see the demon in the faces I know and love.
It’s an ominous place, the Caucasus, equal parts enchanting and terrifying, where the leaves are so green they’re black.