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A sense of anxiety and threat hangs over Guevara`s painting, perhaps reflecting the atmosphere of Europe on the brink of war. Puppets substitute for people, their features exaggerated into caricature. The metaphor suggests both the collapse of contemporary politics into farcical play-acting, and the helplessness of individuals tugged by the strings of history. Originally from Chile, Guevara had been a fashionable portraitist in London before moving to France in 1930. As he struggled for recognition there, the ease of his earlier work was replaced by a melancholic mood.

September 2004