I felt a sort of a spiritual communion with Pablo Picasso while visiting Museo Picasso in his home town of Málaga (featured in the photo above). Never before had I received his art so intensely. The museum is housed in an old Moorish palace, which was built on the foundations of a much older Phoenician dwelling. As the guide book to the museum says:
“While radical in its modernity, Picasso’s art also drew extensively on the past, nourishing its creative vitality with the treasure of bygone centuries. His museum in Málaga reflects the man by including historical strata in the modern building.”
Málaga is the second-most populous city on Andalusia and one of the most ancient cities in the world. Typically of Andalusia, it is a harmonious blend of aesthetic influences of various cultures, especially Muslim and Catholic, which resulted in the so called Mudejar style combining Christian and Islamist elements. Picasso’s Andalusian roots reached deep and defined him as an artist.
The exhibition featured some amazing quotes by Picasso. The first one I want to share relates to his Andalusian homeland:
“I was born of a white father and a small glass of Andalusian eau de vie I was born to a mother the daughter of a fifteen year-old girl born in the Percheles of Málaga the handsome bull who sired me with his forehead crowned with jasmine”.
Jasmine is the well-known symbol of Málaga. I had not realized before how talented a writer Picasso was. He also had a deep understanding of art as an activity that both creates and expresses symbols. He said:
“I always aim at the resemblance. An artist should observe nature but never confuse it with painting. It is only translatable into painting by signs. But such signs are not invented. To arrive at the sign, you have to concentrate hard on the resemblance. To me, surreality is nothing, and has never been anything but this profound resemblance, something deeper than the forms and the colors in which objects present themselves.”
(you can find this and more quotes with their sources on the Museum’s website: https://www.museopicassomalaga.org/en/new-collection/5-unconscious-and-sculpture)
Picasso’s art was not only strongly archetypal and mythological, it was also decidedly carnal, even bestial. He relished the constant company of animals:
“Picasso may like or detest men, but he adores all animals […]. At the Bateau-Lavoir he had three Siamese cats, a dog, a monkey, and a turtle, and a domesticated white mouse made its home in a drawer of his table. […] In Vallauris he had a goat; in Cannes, a monkey.”
There were a lot of works of art featured in the museum that made a profound impression on me. First of all, “The Three Graces,” which was his rebellion against “academic training in beauty.” The guide book to the museum offers the following commentary on the painting:
“This play of shadow and light creates a perfect balance between solids and voids, between what we see and what we imagine. … One dressed, another naked, and the third simply draped, they silently impose their light, ghostly presence, like apparitions that have emerged from thin air. Picasso chose to represent them alone, on a monochrome ground devoid of anything suggesting an environment, and this adds to the timeless feel of the image.”
“Weeping Woman in Front of a Wall” was another striking work. The drawing was a preparation to the later “Guernica,” the famous anti-war painting. Picasso managed to convey the horrors and torments of the war through many of his paintings. There is s Madonna like feel to this particular drawing, which bestows profound sadness on the viewer.
But because there was a whole emotional spectrum in Picasso’s work, there was also a lot of childlike playfulness. One of the brilliant examples was the head of a bull, which is described on the museum’s website:
“The work reflects an already established procedure in his working process in which he joined two completely different elements – in this case a seat and handlebars of a bicycle – in order to give rise to new meanings through their assemblage.“