In Picasso’s Guernica, the woman on the left is screaming at the bull while holding a dead child in her arms. The woman’s and the bull’s body appears to be asymmetrical. Perhaps, their body represents their mental state. Out of all the figures in the painting, the bull is the only one who does not express fear. Perhaps, the bull symbolizes Spain’s government. Its expression and body symbolizes how Spain’s complicit government felt after Nazi Germany burned Guernica, Spain. The lightbulb with the closed eye-shaped object could represent Nazi Germany. The woman with the candlelight represents the international community seeking for the truth. Using the lightbulb with the closed eye-shaped object and the woman with the candlelight, Picasso is telling the viewers that Nazi Germany lied to the international community. By utilizing symbolism, Picasso wants to show the level of cruelty and indifference expressed by Nazi Germany, Fascist Spain’s unwillingness to fulfill one of their promise: to bring prosperity to Spain, and the civil war brings adverse effects to all forms of life.
This kind of painting is certainly not a painting I want to see in the morning, because this piece is the very definition of nightmare. Picasso painted Guernica in the form of odd shapes and dimly resolved images. These bear a strong similarity to one’s dream when sleeping at night. The difference is I can go back and see the shapes and agony again.
In some aspects, this painting reminds me of Trump’s administration on the migrant caravans. In some ways, the current US government is like the bull and the lightbulb with the closed-eye shaped object. Just like the woman is screaming at the bull while holding a dead child, parents and children were screaming not only at the people who are in charge of imprisoning the potential immigrants, but also at the US government’s indifference. Its indifference towards a certain group of people is clearly identical to Nazi Germany’s.
If it is possible to improve a masterpiece, I would like to see the artist make the severed crying bird on the background visible, so the message would be loud and clear. In addition, Picasso could have colored his painting to make the painting look more alive. Instead, he made it black and white to resemble the newspaper of the day. Finally, he could have made smaller objects big enough to grab the viewer’s attention and leave them to interpret. If the artist applies these suggestions to his painting, then the audience would get a clear picture on the effects of war.
Picasso created a powerful visualization of terror and confusion caused by war, especially against unprepared civilians. He emphasized the raw brutality of such attacks using symbols familiar to the Spanish and French audiences: the bull and the horse. One is calm and the other is mortally wounded and in pain. The anguish, confusion, and terror on the majority of the figures make an instantly recognizable symbol against war and inhumanity of people who cause such destruction.
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