Starting from a young age and until this day, I have always been interested in activities that are hands on and expressive rather than stagnant and uninvolved such as video games and watching TV. Although you can exercise your imagination in both I was a kid who needed to be active and fully involved in what I was doing. While sports were something that I was very passionate about and served as an outlet for releasing my energy it still was lacking in the area of creativity and expression. For this, I turned to art.
I was not a kid who devoted my entirety to art, nor am I student who does that now, but art is still a way for me take a step back from everything and let my mind wander and create. I was not an artist who painted or drew things as they were, depicting them as they are seen in reality; I was not focused on making my subjects appear exactly as they are but rather depicting images in a way that made you think. Like Picasso, who said that his art was “visual poetry…[and a] language of signs,” I consider my drawings that I created as a kid as a “language” of its own. Sometimes I knew what I wanted to express and other times a message would appear once I was done. This is why I think Picasso became one of my favorites. Picasso’s paintings depict definitive subjects but there is never one meaning or description that you can derive from his works. Even he says, “painting is stronger than me, it makes me do what it wants,” emphasizing the fact he never planned out what came out on the paper (Metamorphoses, 20). I had a similar experience when I began to create a chalk masterpiece on my driveway…2 hours later 50m of black asphalt had turned into a whole new creation.
Picasso was born on October 25, 1881, the first child of Don José Ruiz y Blasco and María Picasso y López, in Malaga Spain. His father was a true academic painter who depicted naturalistic images of bird and other game and encouraged Picasso at a young age to explore his studio. He wanted his son to go through the ritual teachings in becoming an artist, such as the disciplined copying of masters, but Picasso wanted to do his own thing. While he initially began his education at La Coruna in north West Spain, he later was sent to Madrid’s Royal Academy of San Fernando, the country's foremost art school, which he soon quit due to his dislike of formal training.
Although Picasso has one major theme that is demonstrated through all of his work, he depicted it through many different stages and styles. Beginning with the Blue Period in 1901 and working through the Rose Period, Cubism, and finally Classicism and Surrealism almost every work he produced was a response to what was going on in his life. One such etching, Minotauromachia is described by Alfred Barr as, “a moral melodramatic charade of the soul” (The Picasso Book, 24) His paintings were a reflection of his emotional state, the events going on within his life and even contemporary events that were occurring at the time. However, they were never simple depictions; they contained unrealistic and confusing images that could be interpreted in numerous ways.
A political painting and statement that Picasso made with Guernica, during the Spanish Civil War, is one of my favorites. A reflection of contemporary events and Picasso’s own feelings towards the war, Guernica is not a painting of fighter planes and bullets. It is rather, an abstract depiction of the pain and suffering of the Spanish people in their struggle for freedom. A simple depiction of a bombing scene would not do justice to the emotions and struggles that the people of Spain experience and allow the viewer to more deeply understand the “ocean of pain and death [that Spain has sunk to]” that Picasso speaks about. The expressions and positioning of the horse, bodies and faces are those of agony, grief and terror. With numerous things going on at once Picasso creates a feeling of craziness and chaos. Nevertheless this is a characteristic that is so essential and unique to his work; his ability to create meaningful confusion that draws viewers in and also allows them to make their own stories from what they are seeing. However not all of Picasso’s pieces are somber, dark and depressing. Through the Rose Period we see the use of color more freely and the subject matter change to “commedia dell’arte” (The Picasso Book, 30).
I’m very happy that I was able to return to Picasso’s work in this blog and obtain a better understanding of who he was as an artist and the purpose of his work. I now see that I was drawn to not only his use of the imagination but to his strong desire to continue to create new and different styles to express his struggles, triumphs and even opinions. I am drawn to his style that is freeing and lacks rigidity; the strokes of the brush are unguided or restricted and his focus is not to create a perfect replication. Most of all I love that his paintings are more than just a subject and that they have a deeper meaning hidden within them. Similarly to Picasso, whose paintings inspire poetry, I aspire to create drawings and paintings in a collage like form that make statements and depict emotion.
Picasso Metamorphoses 1900-1972. New Delhi and Mumbai: National Gallery of Modern Art and Embassy of France, 2001-2002. Print.
Cox, Neil. The Picasso Book. Millbank, London: Tate Publishing. 2010. Print.
FitzGerald, Michael. Picasso: The Artist’s Studio. Hartford: Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, 2001. Print