The Old Guitarist by Pablo Picasso – Art Discourse – Verses Inked

Fine Art-Art Discourse-Verses Inked
The Old Guitarist by Pablo Picasso-
The Old Guitarist is an oil on canvas, which stands at an impressive four by two, two thirds of a feet. The piece was created by Picasso, sometime during 1903-1904, and rests at The Art Institute of Chicago, Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection.
The delineations of the image speak for themselves. A frail, wizened, careworn man, possibly blind, or just might have struck the note of his life. Fashionably beat, with his ill-fitting robe, which on its part is much worn at the shoulders. Something Ginsberg would have been proud of perhaps, and Burroughs for sure would have never got out of.  The frame of the man is anteriorly bent over his guitar, which he almost holds in an embrace, as it gently rests over his laps. Your average, abated Barcalonian.
It is matter of no wonder that Picasso, during his post fame days would spent the entire day at some Spanish bar, doing what he probably did second best. At the end of the day, he would doodle something on a paper, perhaps tissue, and tada, the check was served. Something it must have been to be Picasso, as it had been most certainly to be Burroughs, Ginsberg, or Chengis Khan for that matter. As it is every bit to be the Old Guitarist of Picasso.
The Advent of Cubism: 
Pablo Picasso along with Georges Braque, could be said to be the founding fathers of Cubism, a popular art movement from the early 20th century, which implemented the use of geometric patterns, to bestow upon the image its dimension. The Girl with the Mandolin-1910, Portrait of Daniel Henry Kahnweiler – 1910, Figure dans un Fauteuil (Seated Nude, Femme nue assise)-1909-1910, Juan Gris, Portrait of Picasso, 1912 among others may be said to be examples of Picasso’s work during the cubist era.
Yet during the time when the Old Guitarist came into existence, Expressionism was what, which was considered avant-garde. A movement which was itself influenced by Modernism, Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, and Symbolism. The same span of time in the artist’s life coincides with his blue period, which was influenced by his indigent living conditions, and the committing of suicide of a dear friend. The period in between 1900 and 1904, when the artist compulsively took to monochrome, using mostly shades of blue and green, with occasional presence of some other colour, to subtly soothe the scene every once in a while. The Blue Nude, The Blind Man’s Meal, Melancholy Woman, Woman with Folded Arms, among others could be sited as examples of creations from the blue period. Not to forget, the Old Guitarist itself.
About The Old Guitarist:
The Old Guitarist on its part was created just after the death of the friend, Casagemas, a time when the artist was particularly sympathetic towards the state of the poor. More empathetic if you may kindly say so.   The image also espouses a certain degree of distortion, which is clearly depicted in the posture of the seated man. The torso been reclined at a skewed angle to the crossing of the legs. The brown guitar, is the only break from monochrome in the entire image, and adequately fills up the space that encompasses the desolate man.
There is a mysterious presence of an overlapping image on the old guitarist, which as per assumptions are the lines from a previous sketch of a woman, which Picasso had started out at, but decided otherwise. The limbs and head of which could not be totally done away with, even since the idea was rejected, and still make their apparitions felt.
There is this poem, you all might be interested of. A certain Wallace Stevens, who was inspired by the painting, had composed a piece of poetry which went by the name of, The Man With the Blue Guitar. A piece of virtue, as it is, what however the authorship seemed to have found on the internet is a piece by the one, the only, the Allen Ginsberg, which on its part goes by the name of, ‘a desolation’.  The lines of the piece pretty much speak for themselves, and may be subject of much heated discussion some night of yonder. What however, the readers may note is the similarity that they may think of in between the old man of Picasso with his guitar, and the canvas, and the beat man Allen Ginsberg with his beat Harmonium and…Well we can just call them Ginsberg Verses.

If You Forget Me by Pablo Neruda

‘Bout the bard-

Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto, born July 12th, year 1904,
deceased on September 23rd, 1973. The man who first adopted the name for the sake of the page, and then assumed it with all legal formalities.  The man known as Pablo Neruda. The winner of the Noble Prize for Literature in the year 1971.

As a poet alone, he played many parts. From being a child prodigy at ten, popular as Pablo Neruda,  while still in his teens, a dirty lover to many, a chronicler of historic epics, a capable communist and a prosaic self portraitist, among others. The words of the bard however, ofttimes came down in green ink, which was his characteristic representation of longing and promise.

The year 1948 saw the then Chilean president Gabriel González Videla, abolish communism in the country. Neruda, who was then a member of the senate on behalf of the Chilean Communist Party, had an arrest warrant issued in his name. A period when the poet was expatriated from his home country. An important event, in an individual’s life, no matter how ephemeral or prolonged the period of exile is.


The Song’s Tale-

As per most expectations, it was during this period that Neruda composed the verses the we shall hereupon discuss.   If You Forget Me, what necessity would translate it as. Si Tu Me Olvida, as would have had Neruda made it sound in Spanish  The piece may be looked upon as an intonated address by the poet, to his beloved country. As it is perhaps with every communist,  patriotism is rubbed upon duty free. Yet, as so often it is with a practitioner of poetry, they would always have a lover for an alibi. At the time the verse was composed, the poet was in matrimony to Delia del Carril, an Argentine writer in her own rights.  Yet the poem is believed to be  addressed towards lady, Matilde Urrutia, who was at that time a lover to the poet, and later would go onto marry him.

While translation leaves us paralyzed. There is only as much of it we could comprehend, and consider the rest to be bitter cost. For the reader in the other language would never come to know the subtle nuances of dialogue, like lifting iron, or iron been lifted. And, more so in case of Neruda, who remains to be one of the most difficult to translate authors of his language. This is the reason why only a minuscule section of the author’s body of work is available for readers in English.


A few English translations of the piece in discussion may be chanced upon, on the internet.  Yet as it is with poetry so often, that all is not dependent on the arrangement of the words, as a lot of it is taken care of in the essence of it. So in this case there is the crystal moon,  and the slow autumn, the impalpable ash, and to be beheld,  the wrinkled body of the log.
Among necessary ingredients that constitute poetry, could be considered abstraction. Abstraction as a process of preoccupation, as a mode of conception. Abstraction as a form of art itself. The same the poet utilizes, in this case to the fullest of his potential. Certain parallels could be drawn in between the state of the author emotionally, and that of Homer’s Odysseus. In the lines which speak of sailing across metaphorical dividing expanses. Sound, sight and touch disintegrated like humble vessels, lost on the ocean, intended to be bound towards the island where the lover awaits.

The entire body of the piece is a straight dialogue to the lover. What if she walks away, what if she decides to come back. What of the love, what of heart. What of the quest of the heart, and those of the lips of the lover. What of the familiar shores which holds back the heart. The heart devoid of love, would it not go looking out. What of the fire, how long shall last the fuel, the implacable sweetness of destiny. How do each end up with their arms. How every measured step either drive the lovers apart, or bring them ever so close together Thus spake the poet.  Such were the lines.

Please find below a reading of the piece done by Madonna.