Last weekend I snuck off on an early train to London to indulge in some quality art appreciation at Tate Modern. My destination was the much talked about Picasso exhibition.
The focus is 1932 a make-or-break year for the artist who had turned 50 the year before (mmm, ringing a few bells for me then). There was no doubt about his reputation and fame but critics were beginning to talk about him as an artist of the past rather than the future. This exhibition shows his reluctance to be sidelined in favour of the younger talent coming through and marked an energetic and creative period of his life and perhaps some of his most accomplished works.
“The work that one does is a way of keeping a diary”, Pablo Picasso.
I was fascinated and encouraged by his disdain for chronology. Apparently his self curated exhibitions comprised of work from all periods mixed together. His sketchbooks were renowned for having work from various years in them, almost like he picked up the nearest sketchbook to hand and used it (ha ha, just like me then. I love it when I can liken what I thought were my unorganised practices to those of the most celebrated artist of the past century!). He didn’t seem to discard early work as being less worthy than the latest projects and I’ve taken that on board (I’m guessing I’m not the only one who moves on and doesn’t look back? Previous work is still relevant and perhaps becomes more so in light of what follows).
So what to expect from this big exhibition (apart from marvelling at the productivity of this man)?
- Wonderful curves and bright, contrasting colour defining planes.
- Breasts in strange places.
- Flip top heads.
- Furniture (not usually abstracted and often referenced in the title e.g. Woman in a Red Armchair).
- Fabulous bulbous head sculptures.
“You start a painting and it becomes something altogether different. It’s strange how little the artist’s will matters”. Pablo Picasso.
The most exciting part of this exhibition for me I think was seeing the Boisgeloup sculptures. I spent a bit of time sketching these wonderful, voluminous heads and marvelling at how the curves flowed in to one another (you only really get an appreciation for that sort of thing when you try and draw it).
Thoroughly excited by the work of this genius, of course I couldn’t wait to play when I got home. I am a huge fan of art books directed at children as I find them much more playful and imaginative than the drier adult versions. Quite a while back I remember an exercise from one of the books in my collection about recreating your own Picasso inspired drawing. Here is the recipe:
- Draw an eye anywhere on the page.
- Turn the page 90 degrees clockwise and draw another, much bigger eye, anywhere on the page.
- Turn by 90 degrees clockwise and draw a nose, anywhere.
- Turn by 90 degrees and draw a mouth.
- Turn by 90 degrees and draw a limb/hand/paw etc.
You get the idea? Once you have a few features on the page, you use a couple of lines to join them up. Do a bit of colouring in and decide which way up you fancy hanging your work of art.
This is so much fun I urge you to have a go. Animals, people anything really. Mix it up and enjoy.
I hope I’ve given you a taste of this wonderful exhibition and if you are able to get to London I strongly recommend a visit. I’ll leave you with another quote from this amazing artist:
“Essentially there is only love, whatever it may be”. Pablo Picasso.