Homage to Picasso
We would be surprised if a painter fresh from the Orient and seeking the most important achievements of contemporary Occidental art did not fall under at least one of the Picasso spells. From Picasso’s extravagant lifetime variety Chen has found many images that richly adapt to his compositional necessities and his philosophical dredging.In the lower half of Homage to Picasso there is a marked clash of two symbolic realities. The Guernica figures in left and right could be called – credit to Malraux, whom Chen immensely admires – Man’s Fate: greed, suffering, and war. Thrust upward through the center, Greco’s Assumption figures emphasize the redemption, an overcoming of evil: Man’s Hope. The Anguished head on lower left, the bull’s ears, the tral figure, accentuate the eye’s path toward heaven. The violence of Guernica is overcome. The little block above the head on the lower right is a window leading to the outside – to the dawn, early morning. It is an element for composition rather than a symbolic meaning. Guernica has a window in the same place, but rather than floating in space, it is a tiny opening through a heavy solid wall that the figure tries vainly to reach; nothing can be seen beyond the wall.The upper figures float high in the sky of a blindingly bright early morning. The dark silhouette behind Picasso is the Venus de Milo, to Chen the Goddess of fine arts and beauty. The magenta figure, whose coloration is almost as spectacular as the luminescent bust of Picasso, is Jacqueline. The amorphous blue volume – a blue of jealousy – represents all of Picasso’s other women. These figures, which rise into the sky with the ominous dominance of a mushroom cloud, form an unusual god head of the arts.Though of Greek origin, El Greco was a Spanish painter: a kinship with Picasso. Especially with the Guernica quotations, Chen has given the painting colors of his own choosing and some modifications of volumes. He did not plan the irony that the Greco disciple pointing upwards in the Assumption of the Virgin should be pointing directly to the symbol of the artist’s mistresses. There are other hidden mockeries scattered throughout Chen’s Neo-iconography.