REVIEW OF PICASSO: MINOTAURS AND MATADORS.
Guest Post by Deborah Tarrant:
Set in the modern gallery space of the Gagosian, tucked away in a corner of Mayfair, the exhibition, in partnership with the artist’s grandson, Bernard Ruiz-Picasso, examines the intersection of Picasso’s bullfighting imagery with his mythological and biographical compositions of the 1930s. There are also links with Mediterranean works dating from 1889 to 1971 and traces Picasso’s fascination with the ancient rituals and stories of his native Mediterranean.
In a simple display divided by full length dark green curtains and trestle tables holding the ceramics and photos the space is full of exhibits on loan from museums and private collections
The curator’s quote on the entrance to the Gagosian is an apt and enticing description of what is to come.
The best Matador that ever existed.
His paintbrush is like a sword
dipped in the blood of all the colors.
There are walls full of various depictions and styles of ‘le taureau’, the bull, horses, matadors, Minotaurs and scenery in sketches, paintings, sculptures, photos and short films. Included are several self portraits of Picasso, one where he is naked to the waist and wearing a wicker head of a bull, intended for bullfighting training, literally getting inside the skull of a bull.
Picasso with a bull’s head mask, Golfe-Juan, Vallauris, France, 1949
copyright 2017 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Courtesy Gagosian. Photo by Edward Quinn copyright Edwardquinn.com
In a set of 11 lithographs, entitled Le taureau Picasso takes ‘the bull’ from a realistic living and fully rounded form through a series of reductions in muscle density and brawn becoming more abstract until the bull is no more than a line drawing.
This is representative of the rest of the exhibition which is full of this juxtaposition of naturalism, abstraction and almost cartoon-like drawings and sculptures.
A painting of his son, Paul, dressed as a matador in 1929, is flanked by more of matadors in the abstract style of Picasso we are more accustomed to.
Torero 1970. Portrait de Paul en torero 1925. Le Matador 1970
C 2017 Estate of Pablo Picasso/ARS New York. Courtesy Gagosian
If you love Picasso, mythology and Spanish bullfighting then this is an exhibition not to miss. And even if the subject matter is not high on your list of favourite things you can not fail to marvel at how Picasso used these influences and his complex character to create some fascinating artworks.
CURATED BY SIR JOHN RICHARDSON runs until 25th August 2017
Tuesdays – Saturdays 10-6
20 Grosvenor Hill,
London, W1K 3QD