Saturday, July 25, 2009

Standing in Front of the Gernica

Standing in front of Picasso's Gernica (1937) at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia this summer (2009) in Madrid, Spain, was like taking a bath in fresh squeezed orange juice, overwhelming. Picasso painted the Gernica in black and white oils over canvas. Having waited many years to see
this work, I approached it with hesitation by sketching several of Picasso's individual studies, such as Picasso's study of a horse (estudio para elcabello). 

After viewing the individual studies, I crept into the room where
the painting hung (349 X 776 cm). Overcome, I backed away and completed another sketch. Viewers can take pictures in the museum if the flash is inactive, but shooting Picasso sketches felt more like an assault on them.

Drawing slowed me down enough to converse with the lines, the composition, the process, and with Picasso.

Drawing in a public place, much less the Sofia, was like standing naked on a crowded street. I felt vulnerable, yet the act of drawing allowed me to block out the noise. I could hear in the background, "Mama, mira, undebujante." (Mother, look an artist). Being called an artist by a child in the presence of the Gernica was a great honor. 

The night we returned from Spain, I completed an acrylic (22" X 22") of a double bloom daylily. Spain left me hungry to pick up the brush once more.

Posted by Stephen Kroeger