This painting, first of all, is from Pablo Picasso's Blue Period, a time when he embraced symbolist color, a technique that moves sharply away from realism. For, the painter's overriding aim is to express his feelings about the theme of the painting. Thus color becomes a powerful symbol of emotions, thoughts, and moods.
Picasso's painting, The Tragedy, underscores his statement, "Art is the elimination of the unnecessary." For, by using one color and only a minimal amount of hues, the melancholic emotion of the painting in blue is readily communicated to the viewer. With this sense of melancholy and despair, the composition of the painting points also to the despair of the man and woman who are without shoes on a forlorn beach away from society, in dejected postures. The boy's hands are out as though he speaks to the parents in an effort to move them from their obvious dejection, but their heads are down in an act of refusal to see only their thoughts. That the reason for the tragedy is not apparent is not necessary to this painting which conveys a singleness of emotion and mood.
This singleness of emotion may be all that Picasso wished to express in his personal depression over the suicide of a friend, Carlos Casagenamas.