Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse were two of the most influential Modernist artists working in the first half of the twentieth century. The two artists met in 1905 at one of the gatherings of Gertrude Stein who was a patron of Picasso’s. Their work was – and still is – often compared and upon meeting, the two become both lifelong friends and rivals. Whereas Picasso often conjured his compositions from his imagination, Matisse preferred to work from nature and would complete much more expansive interiors around his subjects.

Left: Pablo Picasso, Vase, Bowl and Lemon, 1907,
oil on panel, 62 x 48 cm, Galerie Beyeler, Basel
Right: Henri Matisse, Still Life with Blue Tablecloth (detail), 1909,
88 x 118 cm, oil on canvas, The Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg

Picasso’s Vase, Bowl and Lemon – illustrated above left – was painted the same year he joined a premoninant Paris gallery that championed the work of Cubism. It is also the same year he completed Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, a painting that is often considered a reactionary work to Matisse’s Le bonheur de vivre, painted the year prior. Through Le bonheur de vivre, Matisse gained notoriety as a leader of the Modern Arts and although Picasso was 12 years his junior, Picasso gained via Les Demoiselles – according to art critic Hilton Kramer – the “role of avant-garde wild beast.” Considering the two paintings illustrated above, their shared aesthetic is evident. Whereas Picasso applied the techniques of Cubism to his work, Matisse looked to the Fauvists with both artists using a similar palette to construct the blue interior with a simple arrangement of lemons and vessels.

{Sweet & Sour Chicken}

As a nod to the sweet & sour relationship between Matisse and Picasso as well as the aesthetic influences from Asia, this sweet & sour chicken recipe is a modified version of the takeaway classic.

adapted from Chinese Food Made Easy

1/4 cup cashews
1 teaspoon dried chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 chicken tenderloins
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/3 cup pineapple
1/3 cup pineapple juice
1 teaspoon soy sauce
handful of rocket, to serve

Preheat the oven to 210C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. With a motor and pestle, mash the cashews with the salt and chili until finely ground.  On a large plate, pour out the nuts and begin pressing each chicken tenderloin into the mixture ensuring that there is an even coating on each piece. Lay the chicken on the baking sheet and once each tenderloin is covered with the nut mixture, slide them into the oven for 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

Meanwhile, add the lemon, pineapple + juice and soy sauce into a small bowl. Puree with a hand blender and transfer to a small saucepan. Cook over high heat for 1-2 minutes, until the sauce has thickened. Season to taste (you may need to add more pineapple juice if the lemon is particular large to balance out the sourness).

Wash the rocket and place a small amount on each plate. Top with chicken and drizzle over the sweet & sour sauce. Serve warm.