Before Anders is shot, one of the bank robbers tells him to look up at the ceiling. Instead of cautiously handling this violent situation, Anders looks up and focuses on the ceiling’s mural, which he characterizes as amateur artistry. In his mind, Anders elaborates on what he perceives to be poor artistic decisions: he describes the ugliness of the painting’s subjects and the repetitiveness of certain elements, such as the facial expression of the painting’s cherubs. Lastly, he focuses on a scene between two ancient figures, Zeus and Europa, and criticizes how the artist drew them in a comical and overdramatic style. Zeus and Europa are characters from classical Greek myth, a part of history that Anders, in his youth, used to respect and admire. As an adult, however, the painted ceiling and its classical backdrop are targets of Anders’s scorn and cynicism. The painted ceiling thus represents the majesty and tradition of art, concepts that no longer impress Anders: he used to be moved by such things, but now he chooses to criticize and mock them.
The Painted Ceiling Quotes in Bullet in the Brain
The domed ceiling had been decorated with mythological figures whose fleshy, toga-draped ugliness Anders had taken in at a glance many years earlier and afterward declined to notice. Now he had no choice but to scrutinize the painter's work. It was even worse than he remembered, and all of it executed with the utmost gravity.