1932: A year of renewed creativity

Current art exhibition: Picasso 1932 – Love, Fame, Tragedy
Tate Modern, London, UK.

8 March – 9 September 2018

I’m delighted to cover the first ever solo exhibition of Pablo Picasso at Tate Modern and what is certainly the blockbuster art show of the season here in London. I believe that Picasso was one of the most relevant figures in the arts in the 20th century, and a great artist who kept exploring new artistic avenues all his life.

I liked the curating work done for this EY exhibition at Tate Modern, as I did like the one done at The National Portrait Gallery at the end of 2016 based on “Picasso Portraits“. I found the latter was excellent to showcase the artist’s capacity to redefine the portrait with each woman in his life.

Picasso said once that “The work one does is a way of keeping a diary.” The current art exhibition at Tate Modern is like a diary that takes visitors on a month-by-month journey through 1932; a year that’s been called his ‘year of wonders’ for how relevant it was from a personal and career perspective.

In his personal life, he was 50 years old and his marriage with Olga Picasso (previously Khokhlova) was under strain. The affair he was having with the significantly younger Marie-Thérèse Walter, a young woman of 22, offered him a escape and a source of inspiration for much of his work in this period. Walter is the central presence in this exhibition and who inspired him to reach a new level of sensuality with his paintings.

From a career perspective, this was the year that cemented Picasso as a celebrity within the art world. A group of Paris dealers competed to launch the first ever retrospective of his work, when retrospectives of living artists were still unusual. Matisse’s retrospective at the Galeries Georges Petit in 1931 had been a rare exception and Picasso wanted to have his own too. He even declined offers from the MOMA in New York and the Venice Biennale to have his own retrospective at the Galeries Georges Petit, which happened in June 1932. Picasso took full control of the show to avoid giving too much power to his dealers. But, then he didn’t attend the opening, choosing to go to the cinema instead. That art show cemented his celebrity status and offered the first hint of having a new woman in his life.

He escaped to Boisgeloup with Marie-Thérèse Walter in July and August, and his style became faster and more fluid. She was a great swimmer, so he used this fact to showcase similarities between women and sea creatures with a strong surrealist influence.

This art exhibition presents also some of the drawings he did in charcoal in 1932. Some of them in canvas as they were works in their own right, not preparatory studies. For some paintings, he liked focusing on line and shape rather than in colour. I was lucky to see the fantastic “Picasso Black and White” exhibition held at the Guggenheim in New York in 2012, which explored the fantastic use of black and white he did throughout his career. It’d be good to see a similar art show like that in London sometime soon.

Towards the end of the show, we could see the series of drawings and paintings inspired by classical themes, both secular and religious, such as the Crucifixion, by Matthias Grunewald’s Isenheim Altarpiece and  scenes of reclining nudes and flute players, mostly associated with surrealism. Although he was sceptical of group membership of any kind. The flute players in purple and green reminded me of Chagall’s figures with a whimsical and magic touch.

The year that started with sensuous exuberance progressed into a more darkened mood after Marie-Thérèse fell very ill after swimming in the river Marne. His paintings reflected scenes of rescue and struggle. What’s more, he became increasingly anxious about the political situation there was in Europe at the time with populist nationalism and totalitarian regimes, which would eventually finish with tragedy first in Spain and then all over Europe.

Some of Picasso’s most iconic and loved works like ‘Nude woman in a red armchair’ from the Tate collection, ’Girl before a mirror’ from The Museum of Modern Art in NY or ‘The dream’ are displayed in this show . Also, I enjoyed to see two of the sculptures shown in this show created in Boisgeloup, a big bust of Marie-Thérèse and the ‘Cock’ that was a rare example among all the female figures he made; it shares the sweeping curves with them and includes a profile beneath the tail feathers. The original plaster was cast in bronze in 1952. One of The art berries’ pictures captures the ‘Cock’ and adds another profile to it.

I enjoyed this exhibition because at a time in which critics were questioning his ability to create new work, he once again redefined the tradition of western art with a new style full of sensuality, fluidity and vibrancy. Something only a great artist can do.

Fashion notes:
Raspberry wears a dress from COS stores.
Blueberry wears a shirt from Cynthia Rowley and a vintage jumper.
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Art creation as an ongoing process

Past art shows: Giorgio Griffa. A continuos becoming.
Camden Arts Centre, London, UK.
26 January – 8 April 2018

We visited this art exhibition in March this year and got really inspired by the paintings presented by Giorgio Griffa (1936) at the Camden Art Centre. Griffa is an Italian abstract painter who lives and works in Turin and has been closely related to Arte Povera, which stands for ‘poor art’. This is a movement that appeared in Italy in the 1960s and with which artists sought to radically redefine painting by incorporating throwaway or ‘poor’ materials into their work.

Griffa believes in the ‘intelligence of painting’ and allows for every element of the process to influence and form his work, from the type of brush he uses to the nature of the canvas or the dilution of the pain.

Griffa’s approach is performative and time-base, as he assures that painting is “constant and never finished”.

 

His sources of inspiration are quantum energy, time-space mathematics, the golden ratio and the memory of visual experience since time immemorial. The body of work he presented at the Camden Arts Centre spans his career as an artist from the 1960s through to today and it was curated by artist and curator Stephen Nelson.

I found this exhibition visually striking and very much of my taste. The use of bold and primary colours over unstretched raw canvas was reinforced by the white background of the walls. As soon as I went through the door I felt I was entering the artist’s individual universe. The simple shapes and materials he uses on his paintings resonate with me; as if the artist had found a series of universal symbols and shared them with the rest of the world.

Performing as The art berries, we added another layer to these art exhibition and I dare to say that Griffa would approve of this addition to his work, not only for what it brought of improvisation and time-base performance, but also for the “constant and never finished” approach he likes to use on his paintings.

 

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The plasticity of a surreal dream

Past shows: Karla Black, Stuart Shave/Modern Art
17 Nov – 16 Dec 2017

We attended this exhibition in November last year and really liked discovering Karla Black’s new body of work. With this exhibition she attempted to emphasise the importance of mark-making in her practice, which combined with colour and light connects her sculptural practice to painting.

Moreover, she concentrated specifically on one of the many sculptural problems that preoccupies her: how to preserve the precious, formal aesthetic decisions she makes, within the precariousness of the informal materials she favours. Many of the works in the exhibition were conceived and realised within the gallery space. As she’s asserted in the past, her sculpture is absolutely non-representational.

“There is no image, no metaphor,” Karla Black said.

In the first room, there were free standing sculptures made of Vaseline mixed with paint, then sealed between glass screens. In addition, we found hanging sculptures in the same materials and in clay, wool and spray paint across the whole show. In the second room, there were floor artworks of a pink fluff material and thin sculptures made of Johnson’s baby oil bottles, crystal glasses and wax.

Karla Black lives and works in Glasgow. She was born in Alexandria, United Kingdom in 1972, and completed an MA in Fine Art at the Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow, in 2004. In 2011, Black’s work represented Scotland at the 54th Venice Biennale, and was the same year nominated for the Turner Prize. Her work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at multiple galleries in the UK and abroad.

Black’s works for this exhibition were fragile and evocative. The plasticity of the materials she used for this exhibition, as well as the pastel and shinny colours she employed on most of these artworks remain in my mind as part of a surreal dream.

 

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Connected to the universe

Past shows: Thomas Ruff, Whitechapel Gallery
27 Sept – 21 Jan 2018

This exhibition was the artist’s first major London retrospective and was curated by Whitechapel Gallery Director Iwona Blazwick. It included his more recent works from 1979 to 2017 and was organised thematically. Some of the themes explored included questions of scale, the cosmic and the everyday.

Known for taking a critical, conceptual approach to photography, Ruff explores themes as diverse as utopianism, suburbia, advertising culture, pornography and surveillance. The German artist began his career in the 1970s as a student at the renowned art school Staatliche Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf, and from the 1970s to today has worked in series for which he uses different image-making technologies. He presented 18 series for this art exhibition.

“I just think that with one photograph you cannot explain the whole world, you have to make more photographs.” Thomas Ruff.

I didn’t visit this exhibition, but the other berries did and took some brilliant photos that I am sharing with you here. You can see pictures of everyday life mixed with some cosmic views of the universe taken in a huge scale. Raspberry and Blackberry performed alongside Sterne (Stars) (1989–92), photographs taken by a high-performance telescope at the European Southern Observatory, and you can think about what a small part of the universe we are and how connected we are to everything else. 

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