A Poem to Picasso

Tuesday this week, I saw Picasso: The Artist and His Muses at the Vancouver Art Gallery.


Pablo Picasso, Reclining Woman Reading (1960).

I learned a lot. And most of what I learned about the man, I didn’t like. Picasso didn’t seem very easy to love and live with. And yet there is his art, his strange, powerful, game-changing art. But his art and his life are so intertwined. And I appreciated that this exhibit focused on the six women behind so many of his paintings, making room for their stories and personalities that get dwarfed by the man who immortalized their bodies.

As is often the case when I have mixed feelings about someone, I wrote a poem.

you’re like Henry VIII
with his six wives
though you only married two

born in Spain but French
at art
and women

Fernande was your first crush
with Olga you said I do
Marie-Thérèse came blonde and bright

Dora came in tears
Françoise actually left you
and finally Jacqueline, a wife for the end

you acquired mistresses
like you finished paintings
fast, flattening every angle

here she sits
here she reads
here she weeps

here she lies
here she stares
here she is elsewhere

over six dozen
and they all start
to look
the same

the double face, changing into the next
easier to paint secrets
than keep them

a cheek was something to burn
with the butt of a cigarette
a body, something to dissect

you were a cruel
unfaithful man
but then, what to do with Guernica?

you paint it as you see it
you saw horror well
but, I wonder, is that the only story to tell?


Photographic replica of Picasso’s Guernica (1937) at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

The Night I Slept in an Art Gallery

I took a quick trip to Victoria the other day and slept in an art gallery. Ok, it wasn’t really an art gallery but it might as well have been. I fell asleep on a friend’s couch surrounded by fabulous walls of art. Most of the paintings were by her brother.

This one in the entrance way is my favourite. I like the movement, the bold colours, especially the bursts of black.

The one on the left reminds me a bit of Cubist paintings, except not as cubish and not as disturbing. Imagine sleeping in a room full of Picasso’s paintings, especially Les Demoiselles d’Avignon or Guernica. I wouldn’t get much sleep.

That middle square painting is absolutely huge. And so colourful. It makes you want to sit and stare at it for hours, trying to figure out if there’s a pattern or if it’s all just random. I think there’s a pattern, but I haven’t figured it out yet. In person, it looks like a picnic blanket or a quilt. Seeing it photographed, however, makes it look more digital as well – like pixels on a camera or computer screen, reminiscent of Douglas Coupland’s Digital Orca along Vancouver’s waterfront.

Digital Orca

Digital Orca. Douglas Coupland. Vancouver.

I gravitate towards geometric shapes, especially squares and rectangles. I like the lines they create, like a city grid. The right painting below reminds me of an upside-down treble clef, and music itself, which is and isn’t linear.

Here’s one of my attempts at an abstract geometric painting I did about a year ago with the acrylic paints I got for Christmas.

Speaking of Christmas, it’s coming soon. 3 days soon! Time for me to wish you a Merry Christmas and to leave you with one of my favourite modern Christmas songs. Enjoy!