The Tate Modern has opened its much anticipated retrospective exhibition of Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973) and the pivotal year of his career in Picasso 1932: Love Fame Tragedy. I go back in time and trace my original interest with the cubist, surrealist and expressionist artist and share my thoughts on this revolutionary exhibition, in my humble opinion.
I have so much respect for Mr. Pablo Picasso. I remember seeing his work for the first time at secondary school. My art teacher shoved a poster of one of his abstract works (can’t remember which) in front of our faces at class—she was yapping on about him like he was the best thing since sliced bread!
Those bizarre shapes and faces, it was magical! I had to agree with my mad art teacher—I sorta had a painter’s crush. I mean, no funny business; just a proper appreciation for his artistry and creative imagination. I was young and, obviously, hadn’t seen anything like that—ever— before.
Things started to make sense, a bit more, when I started growing up and getting out there. I headed out to those big houses (I thought at the time) in the middle of London’s Zone 1 called the National Gallery, the Tate Britain and the Portrait Gallery. They soon became my favourite hangout spots as a teenager —my kinda chilled out Sunday when you can’t afford a spa day (Shuush! I was a poor student.) However, I had a problem; I often found Picasso’s work standalone, shoved next to other great cubist and surrealist artists like Dali, Bacon or Hockney. Don’t get me wrong, I had proper respect for them too, but as much as I appreciated their work, it was no waaay close to Picasso. Can I have Picasso all for myself—FOR ONCE? It was okay, though. I survived.
Eventually, the year and time came along (only two decades after my moaning) for the Tate Modern to get it together with their EY Exhibition: Picasso 1932: Love, Fame, Tragedy that opened last week. I had a sneaky peek and think it’s everyone’s type of picnic. When I say that, I mean it’s great for children and adults—of all ages. (I didn’t miss you out, did I?) Whether or not you’re into art is totally up to you, but there’s nothing wrong with having a gander and talking about it over wine and cheese on a Friday or Saturday for one of those Tate Lates (#Justsayin).
The way that the Tate Modern has organised his work makes it easy to meander and navigate across various rooms. Its curators Achim Borchardt-Hume (director of exhibitions and Programme at the Tate Modern) and Nancy Ireson (Curator International Art) have neatly framed his work month-by-month in a crucial year of his life—1932. I mean— Jeez louise—Picasso was busy for that one year because there are over 100 pieces of work in this exhibition, from paintings, sculptures, drawings and more.
1932 meant so much to Picasso which is why it was dubbed a ‘year of wonder’, but that wasn’t limited to his artistic treasures; his work was immensely influenced by his personal relationships involving his wife Olga Khokhlova, which was on the rocks, and his son Paulo. There was also the long-term mistress (naughty!) with Marie-Thérèse Walter. Portraits of his mistress, twenty-eight years his junior, sleeping or resting naked are aplenty. There’s a care-free and harm-free quality to his portraits which often seem cartoonish or something out of a children’s book—some kind of innocence. That’s enhanced particularly with his use of strong, bright, contrasting and highly saturated colours—love it!
By that year Picasso was verging on old man territory — at the ripe age of fifty. But he was still flourishing with fresh creative ideas which is where a lot of artistic and personal transformations were happening for him. He moved between his homes in Boisgeloup and Paris, from the country to the city and to a marriage to concealing a lover. His life was full of light and dark contrasts.
I’m holding back from sharing all of the juicy bits of this exhibition, but you’ll have access to 13 seminal ink drawings of the Crucifixion which have never been shown in—any—exhibition in the UK. He also has an array of beautiful family portraits including his wife Olga and son Paulo which are a blend of his cubist and blue periods, and three ambitious paintings he created over three days called Rest, Sleep and The Dream. They are definitely worth a whirl. In fact, the entire show is quite close to a revolution in terms of gallery events and exhibitions. But—again—that’s just my opinion. I’ve only been waiting for two decades to see something as dedicated to the artist as this. Don’t let that pinch you to go and see it.
The Tate Modern is showing Picasso 1932: Love Fame Tragedy until September, click here to book tickets now.
(I was given a press view ticket)