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With its warped scale and unexpected combinations of images, Otaïti has a dream-like quality, perhaps reflecting Surrealist preoccupations with the subconscious and the freeing of the imagination. This ethereal quality is further heightened by the thinly-applied layers of paint and varnish, which produce a translucent effect. Otaïti is one of a group of paintings known as the Transparencies in which, Picabia noted, ‘all my instincts may have free rein’. The central female figure with full red lips and curving body may relate to images of glamorous pin-ups which Picabia later used as the basis for a series of kitsch nudes.

November 2005