Picasso: peace and freedom. Tate Liverpool

Exhibition 21st May-30th August
Review by Carla Scarano D’Antonio.

Unmissable, the Picasso exhibition at Tate Liverpool. It shows an exceptional variety of the supreme modern artist’s work and it is a great opportunity to visit a cultural event that will be presented in Vienna at the Albertine next autumn and at Louisiana museum of modern art, Denmark in spring 2011.

During WW II Picasso joined the Communist party and was committed to peace campaigns from the ’50s onwards. His ‘Dove of Peace’ as the international emblem of the peace movement is present in all its versions and is the kernel of the exhibition.

His commitment to peace is very clear in his condemnation of the atrocities of war. The Charnel House (1945), like the more famous Guernica (1937), is about the massacre of a Spanish Republican family and the tied, slaughtered roosters are symbols of tortured victims. In his still lifes the essential lines of the grinning skulls are a warning and a deliberation on the effectiveness of so much fighting against whatever oppresses and hinders freedom.

Picasso’s answer is again the symbolic dove of peace. He also uses female figures dancing hand in hand in a circle, lively and insouciant. A video on the first floor of the exhibition shows how the artist drew these symbols of peace on panels on a wall with a piece of charcoal. His spectacular artistry and clear vision expressed in confident strokes are one more evidence of his incomparable talent.

The exhibition also shows a series of his paintings and sketches inspired by two famous masterpieces: Las Meninas by Diego Velàsquez and Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe by Èdouard Manet. They are political works expressing his condemnation of oppressive regimes and false attitudes and his sympathy for a more open and ‘naked’ way of living.

The strongly marked sexual parts both in males and females have also a sensual Mediterranean flavour. They are his alternative to a ruthless reality depicted in the Rape of the Sabines. Again, naked bodies of women and children are crushed by a cruel power.

His nudes of the women so erotically marked are another reaction to a conformist, oppressive kind of life. His visionary interpretation is not about the triumph of eroticism but a suggestion of a more profound and peaceful way of living by going back to the origins.

His work pervades all aspects of humanity. His powerful drawing and colours state his message and interpretation of his times again and again. They leave a reassuring picture of a well defined world where the good guys are clearly recognizable from the bad guys.

How far we are from his world now! From a book my daughter found in the Tate’s bookshop I read: ‘There is no right point of view. You are always right. You are always wrong. It just depends from which angle you are seen.’

I giggle. It looks bad, but it’s true.

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One Response

  1. Picasso who?

    Never heard of him.

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