As we reach the penultimate post in our AZ series on the modernist painter Paul Klee, this week our curator Matthew Gale has a shot at unfolding a mysterious tale in A Young Lady's Adventure

Paul Klee, 'A Young Lady's Adventure' 1922
Paul Klee
A Young Lady's Adventure 1922
Watercolour on paper
support: 625 x 480 mm
frame: 686 x 510 x 20 mm
Purchased 1946© DACS, 2002

A tale seems to unfold in A Young Lady’s Adventure, but quite what it is remains obscure. There is a magical atmosphere. The ‘Young Lady’ and her long-jawed dog encounter a bird in a darkened forest. The red arrow may mark the path or suggest a threat, or both.

Although the space is different, much the same may be said of the contemporary Main Scene from the Ballet ‘The False Oath’ also from 1922, in which a shadowy arrow is outplayed by the huge exclamation mark. It descends on the performers. In these works Klee showed how he could hold the balance between narrative and open-endedness.

Klee’s work is dotted with graphic markers and characterful animals. Read more in our A-Z on how he used letters in his painting, and was fascinated by fish and cats. Oh, and don’t miss next week’s…Z is for Zoo.

The EY Exhibition: Paul Klee: Making Visible is at Tate Modern from 16 October 2013 – 9 March 2014