What It's Like To Be
What It's Like To Be

Influenced By Picasso, But Not Like Picasso


Influenced By Picasso, But Not Like Picasso
A New Form of Abstraction

Hey Marcella, I recognize your work! It’s just like Picasso! I must have heard that too many times and still wince inwardly every time I hear it.

To the untrained eye, I can see how one would not really notice the differences. Sort of the untrained eye looking at a Honda vehicle and not noticing the difference between it and the Toyota parked next to it. A car is a car, right? An abstract painting, to the untrained eye, that kind of looks alike is the same…right?

My signature style of Plastic Space abstract is in fact, inspired by the cubist style of Pablo Picasso, who was inspired by Georges Braque, and painted in a style later described by a critic as being made of “little cubes,” thus leading to the term cubism. I paint in a style described by a critic as a flow of forms using light and color leading to the term “Plasticism” or Plastic Space.

In art school I was challenged to study a so called master painter and copy that style until I was comfortable with it. My choice was Pablo Picasso simply because he was the only artist of the times that actually gave credit to African sculptors as an influence for him. And I was blessed to visit his art museum in France. So I studied his cubism and learned the process. Then I had to extend myself from that style and create my own version, and my signature style of Plastic Space abstraction or Plasticism was born.

There is a unique difference in the application, method, style, color palette, subject matter and direction of Plastic Space. The example above shows my painting, Third Generation, next to Pablo Picasso’s painting, “A Girl Before A Mirror”. Amazing how one can be influenced by subliminal memory and not realize how much. I painted mine in 2005 and two years later, was looking through a book about Pablo Picasso when I saw his, A Girl Before A Mirror and remembered my painting. I know that in my studies, I must have seen this particular image and forgotten it but somehow it stuck in my subliminal memory. So here I was painting an image that I thought was my own idea but in my signature style of Plastic Space. My studies were done in 1972 and the idea was baking for 33 years before appearing in its form, Third Generation. Nothing is new under the sun! It’s just in how you spin it.

Notice the two images and the differences between them. In Picasso’s painting on the left, the visual planes of the subject are analyzed, flattened and reconstructed in intersecting, sometimes transparent planes that simultaneously depict the subject from various viewpoints. It is a faceting technique to create an abstract image where color plays a secondary role and there is a liberation of form.

The difference in my painting, on the right, is that it goes beyond flat linear planes and explores the curvature of light around an object from a three dimensional perspective. You will notice color plays an important role in the composition as well as the use of curves instead of angles. There is a special amount of attention paid to the depth and form on the two dimensional surface to keep things moving and not flat. I also provide a large amount of recognizable and cultural images in my composition to hold the interest of the viewer. And there is a lot more going on in that mirror than just a reflection.

So dear reader, I will not give up. I will continue to grow and paint and one day someone will say to another artist, “Hey, your work is just like a Marcella Muhammad!”

Never give up, never surrender!!

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Marcella Mitchell
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