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Blog #3: Nude In A Rocking Chair

3/ Describe the Picasso painting above. In other words paint his picture IN WORDS. Say briefly what makes it “modernist”. Your piece, whether in poetry or prose, will be Ekphrastic writing!!

In the distance flashes the flicker of blue, a shadowed tree in a white oasis, an ephemeral mirage to match the scene unfolding within. The floor beneath runs in a red the shade of blood. Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold. The throne snakes and curls upon itself as it bears its awful burden. Upon her throne she reclines in freakish ease, faceless and yet not, as below the surface something has been revealed. The destructive form tears at the seams, warping and pulling in all directions, splayed and naked to the air. It squirms itself across her, a grotesque mark that swells out drooping across the skin, sagging yet swollen. Baleful eyes stare forth in wild mockery, bulging as they gaze upon a world transformed, or perhaps simply uncovered. Claws and clubs, a new facsimile for hands and feet, flail in a feeble attempt in to contain what lies below.  A gash opens as the mouth aggressively rears forth, spewing forth a wordless diatribe from a gaping maw where darkness beckons. A crude mockery spawned from the mind of a madman? Or perhaps one who sees more clearly than any who have before, going beyond the surface to what lies beneath.

When I first looked at the painting I saw a strange caricature of a face. My friends looked at it and laughed, then I read the title…Part of the concept of modernism is a reflection on destruction, change, transformation and purpose. Within art in particular, there was an interest in experimentation that this painting clearly demonstrates. I felt genuinely uncomfortable finding the right phrases to best describe the essence of this painting. The invasiveness of Picasso’s features over the form of Jacqueline Roque is quite provocative. In this description I’ve looked to incorporate phrases from other writers that we have examined this semester like Woolf and Yeats that share elements of this sentiment of modernism. Interestingly enough, it is currently part of the collection of the Art Gallery of NSW. I leave you with a commentary from their website:

By the time he painted this faceless female figure, Picasso was a towering legend of modern art. Yet to say she is faceless is not entirely accurate: across her torso, breasts, belly and pudenda the painter has inscribed the disconcerting semblance of his own features. Her nipples are the tell-tale black pupils of his eyes, her serrated vagina is his equally aggressive mouth. Having thus invaded her body, his own erupts in the manner of a physiological mutation. It is not an easy image, but it is wholly truthful to Picasso’s deepest intuitions and experience. Anger belies the innocuousness of the subject matter. Fear underscores the anger. It is only very marginally a work of art about appearances. Instead, Picasso enacts a form of black magic, an exorcising ritual of bodily destruction and psychic derangement that plays fast and loose with reality – all within the conventions of the seated portrait. That he did this through the agency of his last great love, Jacqueline Roque, setting her violated form in the serenity of his new villa at Cannes, is admirable and repulsive in equal measure. The gesticulating palm tree may well allude to Matisse, whose recent death reminded Picasso of the inescapability of mortality.

Art Gallery Handbook, 1999
Nude In A Rocking Chair 1956 Pablo Picasso


3 thoughts on “Blog #3: Nude In A Rocking Chair

  1. Hi Andrew, I really enjoyed reading this blog post. The ekphrastic section of this post was a powerful description of a complex and somewhat ambiguous painting. I quite enjoyed the line “Baleful eyes stare forth in wild mockery, bulging as they gaze upon a world transformed, or perhaps simply uncovered.” This created almost a sense of intrigue within the piece and really drew me in as a reader. The way that you incorporated not only your own personal thoughts on the painting but also those of the Art Gallery, transformed this post from a strong ekphrastic piece, into a personal exploration of the context of Picasso and his works. Once again, I really enjoyed reading this, and definitely look forward to reading more of your posts throughout the semester.


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