An Uninformed Take on Picasso and Surrealism

Reclining Woman Reading (Femme Couchee Lisant), 1960

A week ago I had the pleasure of viewing the Vancouver Art Gallery’s exhibit Pablo Picasso: The Artist and His Muses. My art history background is minimal, so pardon my ignorance when speaking of it. One thing I did learn from my past studies of art is this: we can ponder and decipher works of art at exhaustive length, but what you take from art is what matters most. While I do love and appreciate the curator notes that accompany art, I often find they take away from the experience of the piece itself. Halfway through the Picasso exhibit I stopped reading the notes altogether and simply observed the paintings, and what I found is that art cannot be limited to a paragraph, it needs to speak for itself. I wandered around the gallery, offering each piece a gaze until something grasped my attention. Picasso’s work in Surrealism pulled me into a form of art that lacks limitation and stretches the constraints of reason. For an over-thinker such as myself, a style of art that is absent of control and perfectionism is to be exalted.

The Weeping Woman, 1937


Picasso defies the geometrics of the corpus of man; the boundaries of even the most definite biological truths are pushed with paintings such as The Weeping Woman (Picasso, Pablo. 1937). You experience the face of the muse from various perspectives simultaneously, from either side and the centre at once. Although to the rational mind this painting depicts impossibility and therefore a falsehood, it speaks of a truth louder than the most perfect depiction of a woman could. By capturing various perspectives, you experience the anguish and sadness of the muse from all angles at once, thus being drawn more deeply into Picasso’s own intentions. He successfully forgoes what we know to be aesthetically so, and speaks to a truth that is deeper than reason. It’s like art for the soul.

Picasso has awakened my creative soul that was in a deep slumber for a few months. He reminded me that true art cannot be limited to my own controlling thoughts and what is known to be societally accepted. You must stretch the boundaries of what you thought possible. In art, perfection is not the goal, truth is; and within truth lay beauty.


Featured image: The Kiss. Picasso, Pablo. 1969.


Edit: I’d like to concede that I was wrong in referring to the above mentioned art as Surrealism, when it is in fact Cubism. Thank you to the blogger Audrey for kindly pointing that out! Although Cubism inspired the Surrealist movement, it was wrong to group them together. I still stand by everything else I said about Picasso, his art and the influence it had on me :).