By John P. Harrington
How do they sleep? What demons and delights, smells, sounds, sights and sensations -- and most of all, people -- fill the dreams (and nightmares) of the Barcelonans who live next to the Museu Picasso?
All afternoon, the paintings whispered to me: After that I wanted to climb onto one of the balconies in the neighborhood or shout up to the windows and ask: “How do you sleep? How?” But of course I did not, for fear of being called mad.
“Je ne cherche pas. Je trouve,” said Pablo Picasso, the Spaniard who adopted Paris. “I do not seek. I find.”
But I lost myself in this museum.
How to describe it? I don’t really know. The layers seem never to end. Each connection takes you to three more. You are face to face with the vast progression of the life and work of a creative genius. And with what the museum calls Picasso’s subversive tendencies. And with so many things that are, simply, what happen to us in life.
There are “Jacqueline” and “Woman in Profile” and “Painter at Work” and “Bullfight“ -- surely works like these alter the energy of the night as neighbors sleep.
There is “Roofs of Barcelona,” from Picasso’s Blue period, begging me to sleep in the city the rest of my years.
There is “With the Deceased.” Eternal sleep. You can’t even make out the faces. But simply to glance at it is nearly to weep.
And then there is Santiago Rusiñol.
Through Sept. 5, the museum is offering a special exhibition titled “Picasso vs. Rusiñol.”
“Although Picasso is the paradigm of the twentieth century artist,” the museum’s website says, “his formal training began and ended in the nineteenth century. The years he resided in Barcelona — from 1895 to 1904 — were crucial in that they signified the end of his academic period and the start of his career as an artist.
“One of the most representative and complex artists of that time was Santiago Rusiñol, painter, writer, collector, journalist and cultural activist. His role in Picasso's development was twofold: as an actual artist — a number of whose works Picasso copied and adapted — and also as a model, and often leading figure, in a range of discourses and themes.”
The exhibition ““explores the various connections between both artists and shows the influence of Rusiñol and the Barcelona art scene on Picasso, an influence from which he gradually distanced himself as he became more established in Paris.”
Rusiñol is not an artist I knew anything about. But see his works like “Calle de Sitges,” “Abandoned palace” -- a painting it seems you could walk into -- and “Mystic Landscape Montserrat” -- a place you might never be able to walk out of -- and you will want to see more.
Photo by John P. Harrington