We are introduced to this painting at the central station where we find out that Kurtz painted it. It portrays a woman, blindfolded, carrying a lighted torch, and standing against a black background. Let’s just take these one by one, starting with this woman business. Marlow seems to sequester women into idealized roles outside the realm of gloomy reality. This woman is so separate that she’s a painting. And she’s so impossibly idealistic that she isn’t real.
Moving on to the blindfolded, torch-carrying part. Sounds a lot like justice, doesn’t it? Maybe. At least with the whole blindfolded bit and her being a woman and all. Some people think this image is about blind Europe trying to bring light to Africa, but we’re not so sure about this since, in Heart of Darkness, women are pure and uninvolved in the corrupt imperialism of their country. But who knows. The torch thing in contrast with the black background is more of that darkness and light imagery, where, typically, women are the light standing out in the darkness.