16

Asleep by Picasso

Again the expansive contented mood of Picasso, once more in love, is expressed with a new artistic style. In this work, another of the Marie-Therese Walter series, we see her asleep, her body resting between the two powerful polarized color blocks of red and green, whose oppositional forces accentuate her stillness. The face is denuded of expression and character, adopting the heavy mask of the gargantuan monolithic woman so typical of Picasso's 1920s neo-Classical period.

 

The solid black outline around the girl's hands and profile is a feature of the series recalling the Fauvist's black binding of color blocks. The emphasised leonine hands with claw-like fingers give the figure an animalistic primitivism, which becomes a feature ofthis short style change. However, this impression of bestiality is juxtaposed by the graceful lyricism of the body's contours. It is a weird combination of beauty and ugliness, another theme that continually fascinated Picasso.

The Surrealists's dream world is intimated, but the viewer is witnessing external materiality rather than the model's subconscious mental processes. The work is more a reflection of the artist's sub-consciousness and an insight into the Andalucian concept of mirada fuerte - the erotic gaze - in which the voyeuristic eye become a sexual organ.