February 2020

Picasso & Paper isn’t an exhibition dedicated solely to Picasso’s vast body of paper work but rather a dedication to the artist’s ability to create and make anything with his hands.

The exhibition opens with two delicate cut-outs of a dove and a dog. The details are precise and lifelike which makes it all the more astonishing to discover a young, nine-year old Picasso created these using nothing but kitchen scissors. From here we are taken on a journey of Picasso’s artistic life; from his somber ‘blue period’, where his work took on a haunting quality following the death of a close friend, to the experimentation of the Cubist age where his work developed a deeply abstract dimension, which quite literally saw the artist take apart paper, string and other stationery paraphernalia and distort them into a 3D canvas depicting guitars, violins and people.

Picasso’s vast body of work covers all manner of styles, often reflecting his personal life and the political climate of a turbulent Spain. Ranging from exquisite paintings in gouache of women in a hareem and delft sculptures of his lover’s head completed in a Cubist style to the harlequin-dressed acrobats in his saltimbanques series and his larger scale cubist collages made up of wallpaper, cardboard and wood, it’s clear to see Picasso felt there were no boundaries when it came to creating art. His piece “Women at their Toilette” from 1937 is perhaps the greatest example of this ideology, where the collage - at nearly five meters wide – utilizes all manner of mixed media; an old world map, a sample of chinzy wallpaper and even old newspapers. Despite the mish-mash of textures, patterns and colours, the composition hangs in harmony and the subjects appear clear and defined.

The artist’s obsession and idolisation of Manet and Delacroix is documented in detail too, with Picasso’s iteration of Manet’s ‘Le déjeuner dur l’herbe’ captivating visitors towards the end of the exhibition. Despite the cubist style, the likeness to Manet’s original is uncanny and provides a unique and refreshing look at a traditional landscape and how the cubist style brings a sense of verve and animation to an otherwise sedate scene.

Picasso & Paper delves deep into the artists love affair with paper, his admiration for fellow artists and his reflections on a turbulent Europe whilst also sharing his lengthy and diverse personal love life. His multiple, changing lovers reflected his ever changing and evolving choice of canvas and styles. On show until 13th April 2020, this exhibition is an eye-opening tutorial in the freedom of expression and encourages all of us to rediscover our childish roots and sense of exploration when it comes to mark making and creating. Perhaps we should all start with a dove and dog cut from parchment. 

Imagery by MBDS
Picasso & Paper at The Royal Academy of Arts, London
25th January – 13th April 2020