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The 140th Anniversary of Picasso's Birth
Written by Jake Kim | Published. 2021.08.26 17:41 | Count : 318

Having a great appreciation for Pablo Picasso and his work, I decided to attend the Picasso exhibition in Seoul to learn more and see first-hand how amazing his work truly is. At this exhibition, I had the opportunity to learn about Picasso’s life, reflect on the various art styles, and analyze his work of arts. This exhibition was held in Hangaram Arts Center Museum, located in Seoul. The theme and layout of the show were chronological and consisted of a total of seven sessions. In accordance with the trend of each era, I was able to gain insight into what Picasso did and what he valued in his work. Another interesting thing I noticed was the change in the art materials he used in each era. The most notable fact was that Picasso made pottery and used it for a considerable period of time. Picasso's pottery works belong to a unique creative area located at the intersection of painting, sculpture, and assemblage. According to a label from the exhibition, Picasso got joy from intellectual exploration of art as a mental — almost spiritual — stage of the art-making process; at the same time, he enjoyed touching and interacting with the art, particularly ceramic art and stone painting. As stated in another label from the exhibition, Picasso believed that it is worth the existence of a piece of art only when there is a viewer. (I translated one of his quotes or beliefs stated on a label from the exhibition. Plus, there are merely 50 or less quotes in the page you have referred to, which is too few to say that’s all he said in his lifetime.) He has put a lot of effort into creating a world of work that can speak to all people of their status in society.

[Artist Pablo Picasso, Portrait of Marie‑Thérèse Walter,1937, oil on canvas. 
Photo credit: Succession Pablo Picasso - SACK (Korea)]

Another impressive work was Woman with the Watch. Picasso met several women in his lifetime, one of whom is said to be Marie-Thérèse, whom he depicted with a dark atmosphere. The woman's face, drawn in various angles and sides, including her facing the front and the side, depicts a woman in deep thought while also showing a gloomy and empty look. Various other characters reflected in his works seem to reveal his artistic ideas represented by cubism. His work well represents his idea of being wary of criticism of absolute and fixed views.

[Artist Pablo Picasso, Seated woman with arms crossed, 1937.
Photo credit: Succession Pablo Picasso - SACK (Korea)]

Of all the pieces, my favorite piece in the Picasso exhibition is "The Massacre in Korea." It was completed in 1951. The exhibition "Guernica" and "Salon Drame,” held at the Paris Museum of Art in May of the same year, was first shown to the general public, and was known as one of Picasso's top three anti-war works, along with "Body Pit."

"The Massacre in Korea" is characterized by it being based broadly on the Korean War, rather than Europe. The painting shows faint remains of burned trees and broken buildings caused by a bombing, creating a gloomy atmosphere with gray skies contrasted by the green background. By portraying the characters vaguely, this work does not have the symbolism that previous anti-war works used. The left and right sides of the work were divided into distinct groups: massacres on the right and groups of victims on the left. This particular composition can be traced back to the works of Francisco Goya, a master of Spanish romantic painting that Picasso often admired, and Eduard Manet, a pioneer of French impressionism. In addition, while “Guernica” and “Body Pits” created a dramatic atmosphere by capturing only achromatic colors, this work was processed in more than achromatic colors, including green. I think this conveys Picasso's message of hope in the despair of war, a theme seen throughout his exhibition works. He attempts to accuse the powerful of atrocities against the weak and at the same time express his values of humanity.

[The Picasso exhibition banner inside the gallery. Photo credit: Kiho Jung]
[Artist Pablo Picasso, Massacre in Korea, 1951, Oil painting on plywood.
Photo Credit: Succession Pablo Picasso - SACK (Korea)]

There are few opportunities to appreciate many genuine works at exhibitions of world-class masters. However, I felt that I expanded my thoughts on art and got inspired in more ways than one through this opportunity. It provided me with the valuable change to understand an artist’s duty and right to help viewers be moved by art and interpret the different pieces in their own, unique way, as Picasso said that the role of an artist is to create new ideas and redefine societal conventions. An artist who presented his own unique view of the world and new ways simultaneously, Picasso changed how we think about art in many ways.




Jake Kim
Grade: 12
The Learning Community International School

Jake Kim  student_reporter@dherald.com

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