HONG KONG - 2014 is a big year for Picasso. Institutions and important galleries around the world host special exhibitions to celebrate the various achievements of one of twentieth century’s greatest masters, the biggest event among them is of course the reopening of the Picasso Museum in Paris. It attracted such a big crowd in the first weekend that people reportedly had to queue for five hours to get in. But what is five hours compared to five years of its renovation time? So the queue continued to grow.
Yet there’s a better option for those who care not for the waiting. Sotheby’s Hong Kong Gallery is showing the public some fantastic graphic and ceramic works by Picasso. The selection of 42 works spans the artist’s career from 1905 to 1973, offering a broad survey of different stages of its development.
Highlights of this selling exhibition include La Femme a la Fenêtre (1952), a black-and-white print of large format featuring his lover and muse Françoise Gilot, who is also the subject in Buste de Jeune Fille (1947) as well as another highlight Torse de Femme (L’Egyptienne) (1953) − probably one of the last portraits Picasso made of Gilot before their relationship ended.
In addition to his women, Picasso also made a large number of classically-themed graphic prints. During the 1930s, the artist increasingly depicted minotaurs in his etchings, and according to Mary Bartow, Head of Sotheby’s Prints department in New York who put together this exhibition, these half-man half-bull creatures are often autobiographical and its symbolism varied. In the three versions of Minotaur Aveugle Guidé par une Fillette, the mythological figure is blind, led along by a little girl believed to be Marie-Thérèse under the gaze of onlookers. The impotent bullman’s head tilted towards the heavens, face contorted as if in great agony; yet its muscular body exude so much lust and power that, when placed next to the calm and determined little girl, speaks of the artist’s fear and fantasies in his relationship with the young Marie-Thérèse.
Also on show at this exhibition are some beautiful ceramic pieces produced in the pottery of Madoura, a lot of them, such as this Sujet Poisson, embrace the simple grace of antiquity that testifies to Picasso’s remarkable achievement of ‘unlearning’ the masterful drawing techniques he had acquired as a young man. But more importantly, his ceramic works are such joy to look at, and so down-to-earth that one is tempted to touch them.
Owning a piece of the master’s original work is not as formidable as it seems. Editioned works are often priced reasonably and are best options to start with. Though not necessarily unique, most of the pieces are numbered and each offers a very interesting glimpse into Picasso’s artistic trajectory and his multiple talents. Oftentimes Picasso used prints as a means to experiment – be it a new style or a form or a new technique. Therefore his graphic works can be considered instrumental in the formation of some of his masterpieces, and many serious collectors nowadays like to juxtapose their Picasso paintings with relevant prints or works of other mediums.
Picasso’s Impressions will be on show in Sotheby’s Hong Kong Gallery through 19 November 2014. Visitors are invited to discover the many facets offered by one of the most important artists of the twentieth century.