Left- Pablo Picasso, Portrait of Ogla Picasso, 1923. Right- Pablo Picasso, Woman in Hat (Ogla), 1936. Both Courtesy of Nartional Portrait Gallery, London.
This exhibition entitled Picasso Portraits, at the National Portait Gallery in London, is open until the 5th of February. If you are in the London area make sure to catch this show before it closes soon. I want to say three things about this exhibition as a whole and then I wish to talk about the lovely painting above on the left. First, this is the second Picasso show I have had the pleasure of viewing, plus I have also been to the Museum National Picasso in Pairs. To say Picasso is a prolific painter I am starting to think is a complete understatement. The amount of work he created in his lifetime, blows my mind. Did the man ever sleep? Eat? Second, I enjoyed the shows focus being on Picasso portraits, but more so, I enjoyed the different types of art he used to create all these portraits. Example, photography, sculpture, caricatures, and my hidden gem within the show, video! There is a tiny room, off to the side of one of the galleries, easily overlooked, where you can sit down and watch Picasso's home videos. In one of these short videos, Picasso used film to great a lovely portrait of his wife, Ogla. Don't miss it! Which leads me to my third point. Picasso was not afraid to try anything when it came to his art. No fear! A lesson every artist should apply to art. This might be my biggest take away from the show. He did and tried whatever his heart told him to when it came to his art, and it served him well.
Picasso's painting Portrait of Ogla Picasso, shown above, I have seen many times. On the screen in my art history class and in the pages of my art books, I even believe it is on the cover of one of my art books. All reproductions. To see this privately owned painting in person was beyond appealing to me and the excitement did not fade once I was standing in front of this piece of art. In this painting, Olga catches your gaze and keeps it with her longing eyes looking elsewhere. You get stuck wondering what is making Olga so somber and the way Picasso painted Olga adds further depth to this feeling. The colors Picasso choose keeps the mood flowing as well as Picasso's touch. In person this painting looks more like a pastel drawing; light, airy, and gentle where his brush strokes, all emphasizing the melancholy of the painting. Standing in front of this painting various artists came to mind for various reasons. ...I thought of some of Morandi still lifes because of a Picasso's color palette. Then of Balthus...oh, Balthus must have studied this painting. The way Balthus touches his canvases was so similar to this Picasso painting. ...even Rembrandt and Titian flew about my head. Before I left the show I went back to this painting. I spent some more time with Olga and Picasso. I absorbed a much as I could before I finally left. Thinking about this work of art now, days later back in my own studio, I am still struck by the melancholy, perhaps because I have known my own sadness these last few years. I guess if we all live long enough, one must know great sadness, to truly know great joy in life. A painting I won't forget meeting.