25th April 2018
I managed to squeeze in a trip to see this exhibition on a flying day trip to London and while it is paintings rather than photography, Picasso has been such an influential person in the art world that it is relevant to include this.
I am not usually drawn to paintings but I am aware of the debt that photography owes to art with the use of colour and how artists like Picasso bent the conventions to make something different. The exhibition was a riot of colour and the theme of love was very much at the forefront. I had forgotten how something painted looks up close. I’m not sure that I liked the way the female form was abstracted but they were interesting to look at an examine closely. That’s the beauty of an exhibition – you can get close to things and see it in a way that you never can do online. The colours that dominated were pink, white and blue.
Once I got over the usual stumbling block of seeing paint on canvas, I was able to concentrate on the subject matter and how he had represented the woman of his life. His abstraction of the female form takes on some interesting shapes and I could appreciate the way that he portrayed the same woman over and over again. I am aware that I constantly try to arrange the features to make it ‘right’ but I also know that to do this sort of painting takes great skill, something that Picasso had, and it is good to allow yourself to consider a different version of reality.
One that caught my eye and imagination was Girl Before a Mirror, Paris, March 1932. The description is of two sides of the same person and the idea of vanity as she looks in the mirror. In addition, the MoMA description is also of the girl on the left : “Perhaps the painting suggests both Walter’s day-self and her night-self, both her tranquillity and her vitality, but also the transition from an innocent girl to a worldly woman aware of her own sexuality.”. The painting is of two sides to the story, something that we covered in Context and Narrative (PH4CAN) that of a young girl looking in the mirror and seeing someone else staring back at her. Who is this person and why has he painted her in this way? It is very pertinent to Identity and Place as we constantly scrutinise our external selfs to see what is there, if anything. Again, MoMA says that is: “a complex variant on the traditional Vanity—the image of a woman confronting her mortality in a mirror, which reflects her as a death’s head.”
https://www.moma.org/collection/works/78311 (accessed 1.5.18)
There was a variety of paintings and sculptures that cover this one year in Picasso’s life, as well as some photographs of the French house where he created them. It was an interesting look at his work, with the colour and textures of paint on canvas. I was intrigued by the abstraction of the human forms that ran through the work with consistency. I liked the idea of having two faces in one face. He used this in Nude Woman in a Red Armchair (Femme nue dans un fauteuil rouge), 1932
(http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/picasso-nude-woman-in-a-red-armchair-n06205 ) and Tate Modern explain that the “face is a double or metamorphic image: the right side can also be seen as the face of a lover in profile, kissing her on the lips.” (http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/ey-exhibition-picasso-1932-love-fame-tragedy/exhibition-guide).
Overall it was an interesting insight into the work of one man over a relatively short period. I’m still not a great fan of paintings but I am always interested to see them up close to see how they were put together and how the while tells a story. I’m looking forward to see the complementary exhibition to this which will be the Abstract Photography on beginning in May.