Teresa-M. Sala

Sebastià Junyent and Pablo Ruiz Picasso, a simbiosis in blue

Saturday April 29 – Session 09 @ Hotel Colón

In 1904, we could say in a premonitorial way, Picasso dedicated to Sebastià Junyent the drawing of Boig (Museu Picasso de Barcelona). In this watercolour produced on wrapping paper it seems there was more water than colour, and the gesture and look place us as spectators of a man who has fallen into an abyss.   

In this communication we would like to trace a game of affinities between Picasso and Junyent, taking as the background the evocative power of the BLUE, with mystery and suggestion as the fundamental elements of the poetic of the symbolist movement.  Azure is a space of shared feeling, which expresses a deep melancholy and a sort of empathetic mysticism with the human myseries, with the margins, and the marginated of the society and with their own margins.     

As is well-known, the news about the suicide of his friend Casagemas in Paris sank Picasso into a deep sadness.  Thus, the blue period (1901-1904) is a meditation about the sense of life.  In 1901, the symbiosis between Van Gogh and the face of Casagemas painted by Picasso, the vibrant self-portrait of the Dutch man in blue and the self-portrait of Picasso in blue, all these link up in Picasso’s portrait of Casagemas (An evocation) “I, the Greek”. It is a framework of multiple identities, which allows us to travel between the past and present.

Between 1903-1904, Junyent and Picasso mutually portrayed themselves.

The portrait that Picasso did of Junyent highlights the personal features, both the fesomia as well as the personality.  It’s as if they evoked themselves spiritually, allowing them to manifest themselves through the work in front of the sense of the spectator.  Any portrait is a representation, it is a mirror of the body and the soul.  Paraphrasing Proust, human beings are the figures that time turns them into, without these appearances returning them to human beings.   Portrait is, without doubt, a powerful individualising machine. The young Picasso by Junyent, is a portrait in blue, with the artist full of vitality, the interpretation of the person and the personality, which is identified with the pose and the expression of the model, which shows us external features of the young painter and the internal life through the imprint of his feelings over the pictorially shaped life.  All in all, the face, the penetrating look, the pose and the bohemian clothes…in which the eyes are highlighted which fill nearly all the painting, and with the depth or mystery of Picasso’s painting of La Vie.    

Pedro Azara, in his book El ojo y la sombra: Una mirada al retrato en Occidente (The eye and the shadow: a look at the portrait in Occident”, within the introductory chapter entitled “The powers of the portrait”, he states in a significant way, the following: “Portraits maintain something more than the evanescent memory of the model.  In some way, they keep their presence alive; they hold and protect their presence alive that is always perceived through the look (…) A portrait always aludes to an absent human model, whose presence, real and authentic, should be felt in the images, as if the living person had appeared and had come face to face with the spectator in life”.

Teresa-M. Sala

Lecturer in History of Art, Universitat de Barcelona

She gives classes in the faculties of Fine Arts, and of Geography and History.  Her main lines of research are based around the cultural studies of the 19th and 20th centuries. Curator of exhibitions, among which it is worth highlighting Barcelona 1900 in the Museu Van Gogh and the travelling exhibition Art Nouveau & Nature. Main Research of the project The relation of the arts and nature: biology and symbolism in the Barcelona of 1900. She currently participates as a partner with the Filmoteca de Catalunya in the European project I-Media-Cities (Horizon 2020). She is coordinator of the Master’s Degree in Cultural Heritage Management and Museology of the University of Barcelona.

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Museu Picasso Barcelona
Montcada 15. 08003 Barcelona



Fundació Palau. Centre d’Art
Carrer la Riera 54. 08393
Caldes d’Estrac Barcelona


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