Art can shapeshift—it compresses and remolds itself with the ability and inspiration of its creator.
Spanish artist Pablo Picasso reflected this idea through his works, stating “one cannot truly follow the creative process except through a series.”
Walking through Picasso’s creative process, the viewer is unexpectedly drawn in. Not by his technical abilities, but rather, by his emotional development.
“Visiting Masterpieces: Pairing Picasso” at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) highlights Picasso’s tendency to revisit works, to shape and and refine his pieces over and over.
The best portrayal of this is the relationship between Picasso and his young lover, Marie-Thérèse Walter. Picasso distills Walter’s profile and reimagines it throughout several of his paintings. The viewer can watch their brief love affair blossom and wither throughout the gallery. The affair is captivating, and at moments, tragic.
However, don’t expect a bouquet of flowery love stories. The works chosen for display have an aura of unnerving captivation.
Unlike the sadness of Picasso’s blue period and the grief of Guernica, the pieces in this exhibit are graphic, visceral. A prime example is “Rape of the Sabine Woman”, which even through a lens of heavy cubism and transmutation, is difficult to look at.
The exhibit follows Picasso as he toys with the human figure, but in doing so, he exposes the 3 a.m. emotions most people spend their lives trying to suppress.
“I really find it unsettling,” said Dorothy Stuart, an exhibit visitor. “But of course, that makes sense.”
The exhibit follows Picasso as the focus of his works shifts throughout his artistic career, from his focus on lines to color to light, through varying mediums that all present a common motif – the human form.
In the end, none of that really matters.
“Just interpret what you feel,” said exhibit visitor Qi Qi.
To her, the exhibit is less about watching Picasso’s technical ability and more about the emotional response the pieces evoke.
The main takeaway of this exhibit is emotional connection. The juxtaposition of works allow for a deeper understanding of both Picasso himself and of his artistic strive for self-discovery.
“Visiting Masterpieces: Pairing Picasso” is currently showing at the MFA until June 26, 2016 in the Lee Gallery. Admission is free for Northeastern University students.
Photos courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston