Neither young nor elderly, perhaps in her thirties, she was in the company of friends or family. They had taken advantage of a passing October-November sun to take tea on the balcony. Perhaps a subject that came up, perhaps a sound or someone on the street, or something else, triggered a host of memories into which she began to slip. They got up to accompany a person to the door or maybe to see the bonsai bought the day before. Too caught up in their carefree conversation, they paid no attention to her. Alone, she continued to plunge into her reveries and heard them less and less. The sun has become veiled and has given way to the ambient freshness of the season. She thinks of her life, of what she would have liked, of the other, of her former dreams of somewhere else. She regrets her hesitation. Expected, too expected…
Neither beautiful nor ugly, very reserved in her clothing and her hairstyle: a lot of hair with a vague cut, two-piece flat, straight black, long sleeves, high collar. She sits, not leaning, straight, frozen in this sober pose, framed, reflection of her life. In her strict and vertical composure there is much restraint and detachment. There is no tender, graceful, or expressive inclination.
Her shoulders are tight, clenched by the cold as she tries to protect herself by hiding her right forearm under the left one, and her left hand in the skirt. The balcony is suggested by the perspective of a guardrail rendered by a simple brown diagonal on the left of the painting. It could well symbolize the barrier with the outside world, the reason that protected her but also limited.
The painting is cleverly thought out on the chromatic plane. Joukhadar is aware that the white background, which is a peculiarity of watercolour, would be very unconventional on a canvas. He stubbornly insists on enriching the painting on canvas by taking inspiration from some of the aerated and luminous effects of watercolour, in this case a paradoxical white space on the belly.
In On the Balcony, this ambient white and the greenish grey of the damp cold form the minimum background. Joukhadar plays with the mechanism which, in reality, incites the eyes to complete the white space with grey.
The eyes are struck by the contrast white-black-grey, then they fall on a range of purplish red in opposition to the bluish green. The black and the bluish green, cold, oppose the reddish-red, hot. Black and red-violet, dull, oppose the bright blue-green. This is the idea of inter-reactions of two and one in a group of three. Moreover, some touches of ochre, mud-coloured, express a certain disorder linked to the material world.
Would the black two-piece be just a seasonal colour? A strict and respectable colour, does it express the restraint that characterized her life? Was she conforming to the values of an overly protective entourage who had thwarted her impulses and often prevented her from taking the first step? Would this black be that of true mourning? Of symbolic mourning?
The cold of a light breeze that penetrates the hair is rendered by the remarkable blue-green blend. Chills on the chest and arms are rendered by touches of blue. This cold is suffered equally on the existential and sentimental planes. Several touches of red on the torso express emotions, one in particular as a flow of blood that coagulated evokes a twinge of the heart, a wound.
The face is a concentrate of artistic and technical virtuosity. A few rash brushstrokes are enough to create a host of expressive and deliberate shades. Just like this extraordinary unique spot that forms both eyes and mouth with its little pout, while leaving an unpainted surface for the nose. Surprisingly, the general impression is that of a tense expression, a gaze turned towards the outside, towards a distant horizon of escapade.
Despite the absence of graphic details, one can see that the outline of the right eye looks far beyond the balcony. The left eye is lost in a total blur where the blue and green of the hair flow. The skin is tinged with a purplish red in reaction to the ambient freshness. The face is however feverish, even inflamed by emotions and desire.
Will this flame free her from hesitations?
Meditation on an intense and universal moment of humanity,
Virtuosity, technique …