Norms do… Picasso
Continuing with the Spanish theme of my current blogs written from the great European peninsula itself, I have decided to focus on one Spaniard who has frequently influenced my own work as an Artist, and countless artists over the last 100 years: Pablo Picasso. The great artist, whose works boast the first, second and third place in the world records for the most expensive art works ever sold, was born very close to where I am currently staying, in Malaga. His works are sometimes divisive, but most universally admired. A few critics bemoan the childlike expression of much of his latter work, but as I have often found, it is in fact much more difficult to paint naively when, like Picasso, it is a natural instinct to paint well. What appear to be haphazard brush strokes are probably the result of many hours or even days of contemplation. The underlying balance which enables us to view a Picasso painting as a satisfied viewer may well have taken an enormous amount of preparation to achieve. In any case, Picasso is not just about eyes found where ears should be, and ears painted somewhere around the sitter’s feet. He was in fact tremendously vital to art history. He took art to new boundaries. He was a key proponent in cubism, and in abstract. He brought us a new, emotionally raw way of portraying lovers, family and other people in his life, opening the doors to the likes of Francis Bacon and his infamously savage, blurred and disfiguring portraits . Moreover, the breadth and variety of Picasso’s career provides us with a significant account of twentieth century history, not least his stunning and deeply poignant portrayal of the Spanish Civil War in Guernica, which continues to stir emotions today as perhaps the boldest declaration against war ever painted.
For my Norm sketch, I have concentrated on cubism, a genre which Picasso mastered around the beginning of his career, alongside the likes of Georges Braque and Juan Gris.
Like many of his paintings, my cubic sketch includes every day Spanish objects – a guitar (which in itself is somewhat reflective of the curved shape of the Norm), a newspaper (The Daily Norm, naturally) and a pipe.
I also enclose Segunda Guernica, my own homage to Picasso’s masterpiece painted in 2004 in response to the Madrid terror attacks. For me, the attacks which left Spain on its knees, destroying the lives of close to 200 innocent victims, was the modern Guernica: a senseless attack on human lives, just like the bombings of the basque town of Guernika by German bombers 67 years before. You can read my essay comparing the two events here.