[Picasso] doesn’t seem so much to reinvent tradition, in the words of the show’s title, as to simply explode it, without ever losing track of the constituent pieces, which he combines and recombines in stunning ways. He does odd things with his mediums, for example, applying watercolor and gouache with a dry brush in thin, scratchy lines, as in the early Cubist “Still Life With Chocolate Pot,” creating an odd tactility that infuses his forms with light.
It resembles a landscape seen from above on which light falls down. The white extending from the cup and saucer to the bowl may be a river, beach or tides. Folds of cloth or bright patches of reflected light hold blues and darks. The browns, grays and maroon of the chocolate pot and table establish something more structured. Is it a ground of sorts? The shape of the pot is vaguely feminine; straighter lines on the right side of the painting make one think of adjoining walls. Most striking: the bowl of fruit completely cut off by the sundial-like head of the pot. It is as if that is an axle twisting the angles of perspective. Perhaps light alone creates landscapes. Our artifice, even simply cups or pots, prevents us from seeing that easily. A further distortion may be necessary. An empty cup holds much of the light.