Tina Engels reviews the exhibition Balthus: Cats and Girls – Paintings and Provocations at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, on view through January 12, 2014.
Engels writes: "Balthus employs a mode of thinking that is linked intrinsically, both to the pictorial structure within the works and a visual interior world that holds his motif. Some subjects pose in groupings, yet appear to exchange thoughts or private musings. The pubescent girls and cats radiate calm detachment, unaware of their surroundings. The figures interact in silent worlds, but relate visually as if in a quiet dance. The suggested rhythmic linear movements are choreographed to act in unison with color, form, and subject. We are not invited to join the story, or asked to act as voyeur, but are kept at a protective distance under the watchful eye of the painted or the creator. Balthus asks us to address the paintings as fictions within a tradition, and to do so directly."