They are everywhere. Hidden men. Hidden women. But if they are hidden, how are they visible?

When I read about traces of a bearded man, wearing a bow-tie, his chin resting on his hand, that was found in Pablo Picasso's 'The Blue Room' my first thought was that it was a mind trick. I still believe so, despite expert analysis. Is that a fairy in the clouds, or are feathers flying from pillows in the sky? Sand dunes look like women in repose, and try splitting a flower into two.

If blood flowing from the veins of a Christ image is a miracle, why is Picasso's work seen as a superimposition of one painting over another? If you look at the woman bathing, you might see other images — of touch, of gaze, of remnants. Beneath the skin there is a lot that is hidden.

Think about the hidden man and what it could mean as part of this painting. He might be watching her as she pours water. But he looks bored. And why is he dressed up? Is this a salon for men of leisure to slake their thirst, as water dribbles over body?

I am aware that he is not in the frame. They never are. Hidden men. Nobody draws them, or draws them in. They are scrawled over.

There are other paintings in the painting, there is a vase with flowers, a window. Different pictures. They are visible. The moment the invisible was noticed it took over, captured the imagination. 'The Blue Room' is now about the hidden man, the brushstrokes that covered him, who he could be and what he might have meant.

For me, he represents what the woman triumphed over. Can't you see her cleansing herself? Blue was Picasso's low phase, but the lady and her hidden treasure of emotions are best expressed in her nudity that reveals so much that her secrets ricochet off blank walls and imprint her belly.

She too becomes the hidden woman. Born.


© Farzana Versey

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