Picasso Beauty

One of my co-workers recently directed me to Peor Impossible, a sweetly psychotic Spanish band of the ’80s.  I haven’t bothered to find out much about them, but I think they were part of the movidapunk scene in Madrid.  All I know for sure is that they have a bunch of really fun costume videos including that stunning study in animal print, “El Mutante.” 

As much as I love their Cramps-y style, their real appeal is the Rossy de Palma factor.  Rossy de Palma, the so-called Picasso-esque beauty from so many Almodovar films, just happened to have attended high school with my colleague in Majorca.  She was, apparently, quite the oddball, but I’m thrilled by my nearness to her and, by extension, to the whole Almodovar repertory collective.

I always loved the “Picasso-esque beauty” tag, but I was never sure if it was meant as a backhanded compliment.  To me, Picasso beauty is a celebration of asymmetries.  I’m sure his subjects had fairly regular faces and features, but his portraits bring multiple viewpoints and personalities to individual figures.  Figures and faces may be balanced, but they are seldom even.  I suppose there is a schizophrenia to Picasso beauty that fits nicely with de Palma’s punk persona, but this unbalance runs so contrary to conventional beauty standards that I wonder what is really meant by “Picasso-esque beauty.”  Is it a suggestive way of describing an unusual face?  An apt assessment of a complex actor?  Or just a poetic way of identifying continuity between different generations of Spanish artists?  It’s a term I prefer because it suggests all these things when applied to de Palma.  It’s occasionally applied to other people and works, but it tends to feel unearned in those instances.  Would that there were more such figures worthy of our fascination!


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