Some days you wake up with a feeling that this day is going to be special, and so it was with me today, when I decided to head to the NIE (National Institute of Education) library within the NTU campus, after having heard from several sources that it was a great library, with a very good collection of books from all genres and departments. With rain on its way in the form of an overcast sky, I happily cantered over to the Library building, anticipation bringing a spring to my steps. It turned out exactly as I had expected it to be- vast, silent, an amazing collection and practically deserted on a rainy Saturday.
After browsing through some excellent collections on very interesting topics, I characteristically gravitated towards the visual arts section, and found myself some excellent company for the remaining of my afternoon.
"The Ultimate Picasso" (Barnes and Noble), written by three leading authorities on the different periods of his artistic career, is considered one of the most "sumptuous" work on the extraordinary genius of the greatest artist of all times. I knew I had found my muse of the day!!
This is his first painting, called Matador, from the bullfights he attended along with his father, who was also an artist.
I will not go into the details of the book, except that some of the snippets from his life are really worthy of awe and respect.
The most fascinating aspect that I found today was how his self portraits reflected the metamorphosis of his painting style.According to this snippet here, " His self portraits and drawings reflect his anxieties, his tensions and his challenges, as well as his penchant for caricature and masquerade"
And I was so unnerved by his gaze, described in the books as "la mirada fuerte, a piercing gaze, visual predation". One look at the changing face of the ever evolving Picasso, and you will perceive the dynamism, the vigor, the sheer energy and hunger in him.
Here are the many self-portraits, over the course of his career, which reflect the distinct styles that he developed and honed. No matter how many times I see him, his eyes distract me to no end!!
I believe the following series of paintings give a glimpse of the way he started out to perceive his subject, and slowly the soft, melancholic naturalistic details of his earlier Blue and Rose periods paved way towards a more robust, visually stunning, almost unrestrained bacchanalia that reflected from his later period when Cubism became an established, highly respected and sough after technique that became a brand of its own.
And I love his line drawings.
|The Two Sisters|
Once Cubism took root as the dominant style of the great artist, his signature style, his brand, his inner essence, there was no looking back. One look at this, and you know, it is UNIMITABLE.
Look how beautiful the transition was:
|Woman with her hair in a Bun|
|Girl in Chemise|
|Boy with the pipe|
You can feel the fragility, the pathos, the rendition being true to its subject during the Blue and Rose periods.And then, this:
|Women at the fountain|
His very famous portrait of the American writer, Gertrude Stein, follows this style, which in turn inspired her later poems. She was one of the first patrons of Cubist art, and Picasso's closest friend.
And then this later:
|Girl with the pigeons|
Which finally culminated in one of the most riveting, famous and expensive paintings ever:
the Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, where he depicted five prostitutes from Barcelona. Very few artists have been able to capture this aspect of feminism. When you stand in front of this painting, you are no longer the onlooker, you are no longer the voyeur. It is these prostitutes that stare back unabashedly at you. Look at their expressions. Almost tingles the spine, eh?
|Les Demoiselles d'Avignon|
That's Picasso for you!
I'm off to home now. Will probably catch the movie, "Surviving Picasso" tonight. Hope Anthony Hopkins has done justice to the sheer genius that was.....PICASSO.