I was given a wonderful project from my adult education jewellery making class once, which was to make a piece of jewellery influenced by the great artists. I chose Picasso and Matisse. I didn’t want to replicate their work into jewellery, rather do something a bit different. These were great projects to do. I delved into their lives and their works, and trying to fathom a bit about them as people and understand more about their art.
It is fashionable today to discuss Picasso as a sexist person because ‘of the way he treated women’. But you can’t judge a person on the basis of their relationships, or can you? He was renowned for his amazing art, he painted many women, there were clearly some issues; whether it’s that he found it hard to trust or hard to love, we might never know and he is obviously not here to tell his side of the story.
One of my favourites of his is the weeping woman. I have heard some people say that by painting a woman who he was having an affair with and showing her clear distress was cruel. I dispute that. Whatever was going on for him (which we may never know) he left a most insightful and beautiful piece of art, and it helps people who have suffered or may still be suffering something similar. I was in that position too, being a mistress, and it is excruciatingly painful. How common is it? Love triangles and so on? At a guess I would say it was very common. It’s something I wish would be taught about in sex education in schools because for many young women and girls they have no idea that they could be degraded during their adult lives, they very much believe it’s something that would happen to other women and not them. It’s tragic affairs of the heart. Picasso painted it and experienced it.
Of course, he is most famous for the great anti-war painting, ‘Guernica’. He was obviously a great artist and also a person who had deep sensitivities. Having feelings is something that is all part of our lives, and under the epoch of war and fascism; sensitivities are repressed. I consider Picasso to have been a strong character who channelled his feelings into art and left a profound, lasting and damning legacy for all to see.
The piece of jewellery I designed for him in my class in 2015 was made as a gift to him and it comprised an open hand made in copper; stone set with a blood stone.