WIthout art critics we would be lost: we wouldn’t know what to think and feel. We would grossly misinterpret life, the universe, and everything. We would descend into a nightmare of conflict, debate, and beating each other on the heads with precious works of art.
If you’ve spent some time reading this blog, you might be under the impression that I don’t like the Modern Art Critic. No. I adore their word-juggling tribe, for how would I know the truth without them?
They make my life so much easier. I take their view, and then negate it to arrive to the truth. It is much like drawing through the use of negative space. In terms of showing whiteness, it is better to draw a grey background without the white cup (right side) than a realistic white cup (left side) that looks dull grey.
Look at this nude by Picasso. He is 87, his model, and wife is 42.
This is what a Tate art critic sees in this work:
“Picasso made this painting in a single day, just before his eighty-seventh birthday, when he was beating off old age with urgent, angry brushstrokes. The energy pours out of this massive female figure. She’s a living landscape, a life force, a human mountain range, with a river gushing from between her legs, a gust of wind erupting from her backside, and an explosion of white spray rising up behind her to join the clouds. Yet she’s many other things as well. She’s an ancient green goddess, whose mask face looks both at and beyond us; she’s an exotic bejewelled concubine, baring all and toying with her breast as she lounges flatulently on cushions of red and gold; and she’s also Picasso’s wife Jacqueline, whom he both worshipped and resented for her youth and beauty. I can never decide whether her expression is ferociously defiant or heart-wrenchingly vulnerable.”
And this is what really happened:
Pablo was furious that morning. Last night, he failed. He loved, he adored that woman. Her skin, her toes, her knees, her smell, her eyes, and yet he failed to satisfy her. He could read it in her eyes: a bit of contempt, a bit of pity.
In fact, she adored him, she used to say openly he was a God. There was no pity or contempt, just love and compassion, but Pablo couldn’t see it, for his mind was clouded by guilt that he transformed into rage.
So, he decided to rape her, screw her really hard, no-holes-barred, by painting her.
It had to be done in one day, for it was more an act of rape than a work of art.
“I can’t do you”, thought Pablo, “because you are ugly, not because you’re forbidding. I’ll expose your impregnability through comparing you to a spiky mountain ridge (Pablo compared the shapes of women to slowly rolling hills many times before), but I’ll open up all your caves and I’ll make you cum and fart, and all the more so against the soft red velvet”.
I wonder if Picasso would be climbing mountains were he not able to paint…
Picasso loved to create conflict through pairing red and blue when painting women. He assumed (rightly so) that it brings out the concept of passion in a rather obvious way, ever since the Renaissance days, when Mary was usually dressed in blue and red robes (even though those were not meant to communicate any sexual passion, of course).
He thought his wife’s body ugliness could justify his failure. He even cut down a few fingers and toes off her hands and feet (and normally he was very particular about toes).
“Do you like it now?” thought Pablo as he painted erect nipples. “Your face may be impassioned, but your vagina says it all! Stop pretending you don’t care or don’t like it! I can see it in the way your eye-lashes quiver (and he added the eye-lashes). I can see it in the sweat running down your cheek!”
Yet, Pablo’s love kicked in. His energetic brushstrokes with which he was painting the body transformed into tender pastel-like shades and lines as he was modelling the face. The lines with which the face is done are smooth, tender, and very differently to everything else.
The face was probably the last patch Picasso did. Most of his fury went up in the steam of painting the body.
He forgave himself when he painted the face: it is the face of a woman wronged, but loved. albeit cruelly.
It is not his wife’s real face: in a way, it is Picasso’s face as if reflected off his wife.
This is why its expression simply can’t be “ferociously defiant or heart-wrenchingly vulnerable”. The lines wouldn’t be so smooth.
P.S, My story is a bit of a far-sighted joke, but that doesn’t atone for the Tate critic’s shortsightedness.