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170, Picasso at home

Joe's Daily Drawing

1998, Year 1
No. 18 Aug 9

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170, Picasso at home

I remember doing this painting in the garden of the house I lived in as a student. Weather was not so good, so I retreated to the car shed when rain came. This work is done in oil colors on fiberboard. With fiberboard, you can paint on the back, and there is another painting on the back, a paraphrase on the paraphrases of Picasso on Manet's "Déjeuner sur l'Herbe". I was short on money already, saving on materials, and shortly after that I used industrial paint in cans much cheaper than artist's paint. I did my first large paintings with this technique, and many of them are destroyed now due to storage problems in cold and humid winters.

Obviously Picasso was on my mind. I am no caricaturist, I could never do such a painting if I wanted to. But here, as usual, I just painted along, and only afterwards I saw that it was Picasso and his wife Olga in younger years. The paintings on the wall are Picassos, of course, but I did not copy any real painting of his, I just let my hand go. They are inventions in his style. I realized that the one in the middle must from be around 1908/9, the one at left is 1920/23 and the one at right about 1946/8. This is funny, as the painting pretends to be a portrait from around the time of the left painting. See the cigarette in his hand?

In my eyes, it is perfectly ok for a young artist to be influenced by his teachers, them being real persons and / or great masters only known from reproductions. Remember, yesterday I mentioned works of Picasso resembling others. There is a citation of Picasso going somehow like this: "After all, what is a painter? A collector not being able to buy all the paintings he would like to, so he starts painting them himself. But it doesn't work, the outcome is always a new work of his own!"

That's right, you are not somebody else, so even when you try to forge you will not succeed, somebody will always be able to sense it. The most famous forger I know of, Han van Meegeren, forger of Vermeer and others, puzzled even the experts and had to denounce himself. I don't understand this. His "Vermeers" are clearly never to be taken as Vermeers. The experts were so eager to make themselves a name as those to expertise a new Vermeer, they were just cheating themselves. So what is interesting in my works relating to Picasso is the extent to which they differ from him.

The same is true for Picasso, of course. I talk about Rembrandt's Bathsheba in the Art Journal. There is a paraphrase of Picasso to this painting which just shows where his borders were. He did not understand this painting at all, he could not relate anything with it, instead he just painted a huge pile of trash or rather a testimonial of his incompetence in this case.

When I think about it, the same is true to all of his paraphrases. (Be sure: None of the experts would dare to say this! Could even be bad for the market!) He did only one on Bathsheba, but hundreds on Manet's "Déjeuner sur l'Herbe". If you compare any of them to my paraphrase, you will see the difference. Well, I better try to prove it, but not now.

This was about the time when I found out that I ought to be a painter in this life. I thought I had finished my doctorate's thesis in mathematics, but it turned out that I placed a big bug right at the core of the work, so this was remarkable. It did not take me long to understand this: There was a side in me not wanting me to follow this path. It lead me to resign from mathematics altogether, trying to become a teacher instead (Well, I killed the bug nevertheless).

The painting is sold, a colleague bought it at the school I was teaching at when I left there to become a painter full time. I don't remember which side she actually wanted to buy or if she liked both when she got to know.


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