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  • Ella Noonan

Picasso at the Tate Modern

With a bank balance roughly in the minus five-hundred-pound region, I had it set in my mind that my Easter break wasn’t exactly going to be one full of fun and adventures. Perhaps a bit of window shopping but even then, parking fees at Westfield were a tad ambitious. None the less I had plenty of work to be getting on with and the food in my house wasn’t going to eat itself so every cloud and that.

So, after hearing from a couple of my friends that the Picasso exhibition was a must see, I realised the only way I was getting into that was either by dressing up as a staff member and sneaking in, or alternatively convincing my mum to take me. I decided to go with the latter simply for practical reasons of course.

Sadly, the day we decided to go the weather wasn’t boding in my favour and in true Ella style I actually remembered to bring an umbrella for possibly the first time in my life only to leave it on the train. Despite this and the torrential downpour I faced during my journey there, it’s fair to say that all of the stress was eradicated once I stepped inside.

The queue to get in wasn’t long however we did order our tickets online and I couldn’t help but notice most of the earlier slots were fully sold out. All I can do is warn you not to be lulled into a false sense of security by the 4-man queue; the moment we walked into the main exhibition we were surrounded by a vast sea of people, all there to admire the mix of paintings and sculptures.

The exhibition follows a chronological order, starting with Picasso’s earlier works progressing onto his later pieces. I’m not going to talk through the specifics of each artwork and what it meant to me or we’d be here all day. The exhibition was packed to the brim with paintings, sketches, sculptures, photographs and information relating to the iconic artist.

I remember learning about Picasso in primary school and we all giggled, making obnoxious statements like “I could do better than this” at the ripe old age of 8, so certain that I was above the godfather of surrealism. Obviously as the years went by I stated to take more of an interest in the art world and became more aware of the of act that he was an artist ahead of his time. In spite of this, it wasn’t until seeing the works in person that I truly realised the complexity of his work. In reference more to the later pieces but still prevalent throughout the most part of the exhibition, his combination of imagination with the variation of complex brush strokes within his paintings lead to visually striking and unique artworks.

It’s no secret that his paintings can often behold a sense of ambiguity in terms of the subject matter, it’s for this reason that the titles and the write-ups alongside each piece were incredibly enlightening. As much as one can enjoy a painting from a visual perspective and come up with a personal interpretation, it’s nice to be able to understand the intentions of the artist themselves. The exhibition gave insight to how Picasso’s love interest and muse Marie-Thérèse Walter committed suicide, and he also lost his sister who died from diphtheria. It was considered that this lead to a psychological fear of losing the women around him, some alluding to a fear of drowning. Having discovered this I was able to draw links to his paintings I’d already seen through the exhibition that related to the sea and movement within waves.

This being the first exhibition I’d visited within a couple of months, I can easily say it exceeded my expectations. Pictures on Instagram don’t do it justice and I’m able to say it’s worth the £22 (£20 for students) ticket fee because it’s not every day that you’re given a glimpse into the inner workings of an artistic genius.


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