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A Date with Picasso

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If you’re at the India Art Summit, this is your chance to catch some of the artist’s rare works

There has never been an artist as enigmatic or captivating as Pablo Picasso.  Art lovers have spent decades trying to unravel the genius behind the man and yet his allure simply grows with time. However, a growing number of exhibitions around the world are making his work available to more people. In India, especially, the last couple of years have witnessed a surge in the number of Picasso enthusiasts. Perhaps this has to do with an increase in the number of exhibits of this iconic artist being shown at galleries across the country. In the last two years alone, Indian art enthusiasts have acquainted themselves intimately with some rare Picasso creations, ranging from his priceless political works to the incomparable Suite Vollard Collection of 100 original copper etchings.

And now, admirers of Picasso will be able to view another of his rare works that is coming to India for the first time. Titled Picasso-Faces, this exhibition of poetic and sensitive portraits is being brought to the India Art Summit by Beck & Eggeling International Fine Art, one of Europe’s leading galleries for Impressionism, Expressionism and Post-war art. “Apart from two works, which we showed last year, all prints and drawings are fresh to the Indian market,” says Katja Ott of Beck & Eggeling. It is remarkable how Picasso has used simple line drawings to create such sensitive and evocative portraits. “His portraits are extremely powerful and show his passion for his models. He has not only drawn his lovers—Dora Maar, Francoise Gilot, Marie-Thérèse Walter or Jaqcueline Roque— but also his friends and mythological fauns that inspired him,” she says.

The highlight of the series is Françoise à la résille, a beautiful and rare portrait of painter and writer Francoise Gilot wearing a hair net. Another remarkable piece of work is Paulette, a drawing depicting the actress Paulette Goddard who was married to Charlie Chaplin. “Her face, in typical 1920s makeup and hairstyle, with large starry eyes has the typical signature of Picasso. By using a minimum number of lines, he achieves a face that is not only charming but extremely expressive as well,” says Katja.

What’s also fascinating about Picasso’s work is that it allows you to piece together his thoughts about his own life and work. As you move from one portrait to another, it feels as if pieces of jigsaw puzzle are coming together, and a sort of biography of this legend begins to emerge. “Picasso was greatly inspired by his muses, and once he started a new relationship, he worked in a fury in order to express the disarray and abundance of his feeling—good or bad, tender or cruel. His inner conflict, self-doubt, loneliness, and his living-life-to-the-full are evident in his work,” elaborates Katja.

In addition to this exhibition, the gallery will also be exhibiting a series of photos of Picasso by his friend and renowned photographer Lucien Clergue. Shot mostly in black and white, the photographs offer an intimate glimpse of the artist’s private life.