the sick woman …

… “this painting, entitled “la malade – the sick woman”, finds its strength of expressiveness in the lively and intense red color of the face, which immediately recalls a real feverishness. The eyes are barely drawn by a pencil line, so that the face is expressionless; sickness is the main actor, taking over the face of the woman and leaving her isolated and unknown. The body also lies motionless; it is enclosed in solid geometry, and its perspective is reversed, with the focus converging toward the observer according to the old style. This reversal of perspective means that the observer is not a casual bystander: the observer is also a protagonist. What is happening has a meaning only if someone else accepts its provocation. The gaze of the observer runs to the face, immediately afterward moving to the hand, which breaks the stillness and the direction of the lines; it seems that the hand is gently moving, while suspended, still, in the air. The disease provokes the attention and the interest of the observer for the woman: in someone else’s gaze she regains the consistency and the dignity of a protagonist.
This is the same dynamics which generated, and which will keep generating, assistance for sick people; initially, assistance meets the need of health, but immediately afterwards it dilates to embrace a much deeper need, which is the company to someone else’s solitude. Every attempt to separate these two sides of assistance is bound to extinguish the red color of a face, and to be unable to revive a gaze or to hold a hand still grasping at emptiness.”

Roger de la Fresnaye (1885-1925) -“La malade”

read all of Bianchi et. al.’s comments here