The National Portrait Gallery explores Picasso’s technique and style through his portrait work – but at times is too quirky to be truly effective. 

Self-portrait by Picasso, 1896, Museu Picasso, Barcelona. (C) Succession Picasso/DACS, London,2016.

This latest exhibition at the London gallery offers a very personal look at Picasso’s work and those he painted, yet at the same time it feels very cold and clinical with no one piece of art particularly standing out.

This isn’t to say that the exhibition isn’t worth visiting because it is still a fascinating display in terms of exploring his style and technique in his artwork in general as well as his portrait work.

It is also lovely to see many different paintings on display, particularly pieces that haven’t seen in the UK before – but sadly because none of them have really been on display it is difficult summon up enthusiasm as much as if it was one of his more familiar works being shown – there is no wow factor to draw visitors in.

Taking us through from his early self-portraits, through to the many females who posed for his portraits over the years, visitors can appreciate the way in which Picasso was able to change his style and technique according to his moods and changing relationships with those he painted – it is very psychological.

But the exhibition has a hint of melancholy that runs through it from beginning to end that just takes another layer of joy away from appreciating the work on display. His relationship with his first wife Olga and the portraits he created during the course of their relationship particularly showcase this  and are perhaps the strongest pieces on display.

There is also a sense of eeriness to the display, with portraits being spread out to give room to appreciate them but at the same time the amount of space suggests that there are still more works that could have been added to the show.

It is certainly a quirky and difficult exhibition to enjoy and will be probably be appreciated by  the most devoted of Picasso fans, but those who are only familiar with his masterpieces might find it more of a struggle. It feels like a missed opportunity.

Picasso Portraits is on display at the National Portrait Gallery until the 5th February 2017. For more information and to book tickets visit: 

Rating: ❤❤❤


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