It is this rendering of the visceral as questionable that happens on the level of spectatorship with the series entitled the “Battle of Love” made up of etchings all entitled “Violación” (“Rape”). Here it is the Picasso’s hand that falls heavier or lighter as it renders the act of sex, presumed to be at its most violent, across a set of five images that look the same. But are different. The lighter strokes allow for the imagination of the act to be more about bodies intertwined, limbs disappearing into one another, the woman’s face neither in agony nor in ecstasy, the man’s posture not necessarily about power. The heavier strokes almost an implosion on paper, of the power struggle that is in the act of sex, where the rape need not be about the woman alone, as it could be about the man, too, body versus body, sex and nothing else.
Here might be Picasso’s gift, in its mere presence in Third-World Philippines in the year 2011. When it happens on the same year that Catholicism rendered the local art scene impotent if not castrated, on the same year that the powers-that-be of arts and culture revealed itself to bow down to fanatic religiosity and conservatism, we can only be also told of how we fail – we fail – at standing up to art and its imagination of life, not as we know it, but as it might be, must be, and actually is.