1901 marked a turning point in the career of Pablo Picasso as an artist. He was 19, had a successful exhibition at Ambroise Vollard’s Gallery in Paris but had run out of money. This left him depressed, which was probably aggravated by the suicide of his close friend Carles Casagemas. He abandoned bright colours that he had used in his 64 paintings at the exhibition and turned to a monochrome palette, dominated by blue tones. This marked the onset of his famous Blue Period that showed the Parisian underbelly of beggars and prisoners. Making use of bold strokes, his signed charcoal-and-crayon drawing Figures/Personnages, done around this time, shows well-heeled men and women in long coats, hats and dresses on a street. This is one of the many works on display at Vadehra Art Gallery.
The show “Picasso & Dali: Etchings – Photographs – Drawings” has brought together the works of two of 20th century masters of modern art from Spain — Salvador Dali, a prominent Surrealist painter, and Pablo Picasso, who co-founded Cubism.
Parul Vadehra, director of the gallery, says, “The works of Picasso include drawings, etchings, linocuts and aquatints, that are executed in several styles ranging from Neoclassical to Cubist. They reveal his versatility and mark a significant period in his life as a painter.” Among the 21 works of Picasso on display is Trois Baigneuses III (Three Bathers III), where he pays an ode to masters before him; in this case, it is French artist Paul Cezanne’s work by the same title.
Exhibited in the country for the first time is Dali’s The Miserable Flat, where he has used primary colours to tell a story. In bright shades of red, yellow and blue, the lithograph is a play on the idea of living in a cramped flat, where the inhabitants almost appear like actors on a stage, as if hinting at Shakespeare’s phrase from As You Like It: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players”.
Another lithograph by Dali titled Cecile Receives Germeuil’s Letter shows a tormented protagonist Cecile, named after his daughter, in a dream-like state, suspended between fantasy and reality. It is one of the 25 lithographs which the artist created in 1969 that form the incomplete “Three Plays by Marquis de Sade” suite, a metaphorical take on his life spent in war time Europe and United States.
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The exhibition is on till March 26, between 11 am and 7 pm (Sundays closed), at Vadehra Art Gallery, D-40, Defence Colony. Contact: 24622545 Pallavi Chattopadhyay