Picasso’s Girl before a Mirror Essay

At first glance, Pablo Picasso’s painting Girl before a Mirror makes use of colors that are not as lively as they seem in contrast with the lighter and more vibrant colors. It can also be immediately observed that the painting makes use of lines that were drawn freehand, or that the lines do not appear straight enough, and that there are a number of lines which are ‘bent’ or of curved lines.

            One of the less notable colors found in the image at the left side of the painting is the juxtaposition of both yellow and lavender pink which apparently suggests the features of a woman’s face.

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The intensity of the yellow bursting like the sun on the left side of the face suggests what appears to be the feeling of intensity, of the awareness of the capabilities of the self and of the vibrant state of life. On the other hand, the lavender pink side of the face suggests more like the night, as opposed to the yellowish hues of a bright day.

The seeming ‘darkness’ suggests the sense of calmness and serenity and ease of mind that comes in the night, which is considerably known as the time of the day for rest.

            That being said, the ‘woman’ image in the left side of Picasso’s painting indicates the image of a woman who is vibrant and serene, lively yet calm. It suggests a sense of transformation within the image, hinting at the sense of an on-going struggle within the self, especially from adolescence to adulthood. This is further emphasized by the ‘dividing line’ in the face of the image, suggesting that even though there is only one self, there are inherent changes within the self of the woman that takes place or would have to take place sometime in the future.

            Even more so, the image on the right side of the painting suggests that it is the reflection of the woman in the mirror, as the title of the painting itself already implies. Those oblique lines forming the image of mirror are as pitch dark as black, suggesting a tone of death that frames the image of the self in the coming years. The black lines outlining the mirror are powerful statements that suggest that death and the decay of the physical self contain our future and that it is inescapable.

            More importantly, it can be observed that the image in the right side of the painting is painted with dark colors such as dark lavender with only faint traces of lavender pink. This suggests the point in time in one’s life where death and decay are closer than anything else. The portion in the ‘face’ which suggests the ‘eyes’ in the right side’s image appears to be hollow, painted only with the color brown with a black shadow. It all the more suggests the idea of the decomposition of life, or at least of the gradual death of the luminosity and liveliness of womanhood and being a human being first and foremost.

            Notice, too, that the woman on the left side of the painting is not only looking straight into the mirror image of her self. The woman on the painting’s left side is actually holding the mirror and is apparently reaching into her image in the mirror. It is as if she is yearning to have a closer touch of her future, the time when she is already old and is encapsulated into the arms of an ageing life and a life of dullness. The lines comprising her hands reaching into the mirror image are thick black inasmuch as the hand is colored with lavender pink, suggesting a serene or calm of way of reaching into what one imagines or sees as the older self.

            The idea that the woman is actually reaching into her own image, transcending the physical boundaries of the mirror, is more emphasized in what appears to be the ‘blending’ of her reaching arm into the image in the mirror. Note the overlap of the arms into the ‘body’ image in the reflection formed in the mirror. The lines comprising the reaching arm of the woman overlap with the lines forming her image in the mirror. This suggests the idea that the image reaching into the reflection is one and the same with the reflection and that there is little difference except for the apparent transformations that the woman would have to experience in her life as evidenced by the reflection.

            The background for the painting, the notable crisscross of diamond figures, reminds us of the costume of the Harlequin which Pablo Picasso associates himself with most of the time, suggesting that, truly indeed, the painter is a witness to the ways in which the woman symbolized in the painting is reaching out towards her transformed self. The varieties in the colors used for the background, from yellow to red, suggest at least two distinct emotions: anger or passion, and liveliness and a vibrant feeling. Thus, it can be said that Picasso might have experienced stages of angst at one point and the feeling of liveliness on another during the times when the woman in the image, or the woman symbolized in the image, is attempting to be the one in the reflection.

            It can then be said that the woman in the painting has something to do with Pablo Picasso in one way or another. Nevertheless, the significance of the woman in the painting in the life of Picasso becomes apparent for the symbolism of the Harlequin which he used as the painting’s background.

            These are a number of the many visually compelling parts of the painting which make it truly worth observing and worth the artistic attention inasmuch as it is one of Picasso’s many paintings in life. The use of mostly calm, serene, and dark colors together with the use of mostly thick black lines all point to the idea of womanhood in the painting, one which is inescapable much as the decay of the self. The painting, as a whole, suggests the idea of getting in touch with the older self, with the mature self, if not with the self that is on the brink of death.

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