I used to be an architecture student in China. There, I learnt that Le Corbusier was one of greatest architectural radicals within the Realism movement and that he was also a painter. He created five new architectural techniques: pilotis, free façades, ribbon windows, open floor plans, and roof terraces. I knew that he had been called the Picasso of architecture. So who was Picasso?
I think everyone must know the answer: Picasso was the most famous Surrealist painter. We can separate his whole life into seven periods (I know most Chinese fine-art textbooks do). The period from 1881 to 1900 encompassed Picasso’s childhood and ended with the beginning of his adulthood. He finished his first oil on canvas in 1889 and started his artwork at an art school in Barcelona. Then, between 1900 and 1903 was the start of the so-called Blue Period. This was the time Picasso hit rock bottom. In addition, his painting style changed from the Rose Period to a period of Cubism. Continuing on, the period from 1907 to 1916 was when he was producing a lot of Cubist works infused with classicism. The era between 1917 and 1924 was the period when his oil paintings were totally in the style of Classicism. Then from 1925 to 1932 he began to create works of Surrealism, which is the style of painting he will be remembered for by the whole world. Moreover, that’s when he painted the “Nude Woman in a Red Armchair,” which, as the pinnacle of his artistic career, can be found easily on the covers of many fine art textbooks. Additionally, he created “Guernica” in 1937, which you may be surprised to find looks as though a child had carelessly painted it. During this period as well, the Second World War had a significant impact his life and made his artwork more political. Last but not least, he started his period of Pastoralism after 1946, which is the year before his baby son was born. He kept painting in this style until he passed away.
Although Picasso’s artwork was certainly amazing, he actually ruined lots of his relatives’ lives. In this way, Picasso has much in common with Vincent Willem van Gogh. They both had interesting marriages, and both of them were famous painters. However, Van Gogh’s story has a bad ending in contrast to Picasso’s great one. Despite this, Van Gogh’s death caused many people to feel sympathy towards him. In contrast, after Picasso’s death, most of his offspring and other relatives were ruined by him. Although each of them was a famous artist, they nevertheless had different life paths.
I’m glad that the Vancouver Art Gallery is now holding an exhibition about Picasso. It starts from his Cubist paintings to Classicism, Realism, and finally Surrealism. It also shows lots of his oil and canvas paintings as well as other styles of painting; it is really fantastic. But, the “Nude Woman in a Red Armchair” is not there. What a shame. I know that “Guernica” is there, although it’s merely a reproduction. What’s more, there is a part of the exhibition concerning the role of women who influenced Picasso’s life. There is also a video in the middle that shows how he drew those famous oil canvases. I could see his finger tapping on the white color to make a gradual change in the paint.
After I left the art gallery, my entire mind was like “wow!” That was the real Picasso, not the one in my architecture fine arts textbook. The exhibition will end in the middle of October, so I hope everyone can come to the art gallery to discover the epic life of this artist.