Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Dominican considers "Picasso's sublime tragedy."

Earlier this week, I discovered Dominicana, a blog written by a group of young Dominican friars in formation at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington. Somewhat in the same vein as Godzdogz, the blog of the English Dominican Students at Oxford, Dominicana offers daily postings on culture, philosophy, theology, and related topics. As a sample of what you'll find at Dominicana, consider this post by Brother Reginald Mary Lynch on Pablo Picasso's 1903 painting Tragedy. Here is an excerpt:
The subject of Picasso’s work is something that should be inherently undesirable. There is nothing beautiful about tragedy. Although we may be slow to say so, the sight of others’ suffering has the power to repulse and to send us searching for a distraction. Nonetheless, there is something intuitively beautiful about Picasso’s Tragedy that strikes us as paradoxical only on second thought. The painting seems to exert an immediate draw that transports us directly onto Picasso’s gray-blue beach, bringing us close to the figures and to their nameless tragedy as well; it is only on further reflection that we realize how strange it is to be attracted by something so plainly awful.

Picasso draws our attention directly and simply to their pain itself, with no outside referent to distract or to offer impartial resolutions. When considered critically, there seems to be nothing attractive about this. And yet Picasso has presented tragedy simpliciter, and we are drawn by it not as we might be by a depiction of pleasant scenery, but as a father might be drawn by the suffering of his son. Picasso has portrayed the human experience of tragedy in such a way that we feel no revulsion – no burning need to distract ourselves from the human suffering before us. Tragedy is here framed in such primary and universal terms that it necessarily resonates with us all, evoking not pious sympathy, but real empathy.
To read the rest, click here. AMDG.


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