Exhibit | Keny Galleries: Picasso's pottery sometimes his canvas
By Peter Tonguette For The Columbus Dispatch
Sunday, Feb 19, 2017

 

           
In a new exhibit at Keny Galleries, viewers will encounter an assortment of pitchers, plates and other containers.

Although it is not uncommon to find such objects in a gallery, these vessels are far from ordinary. Each is distinguished by the inimitable mark of Pablo Picasso (1881-1973).


The German Village gallery's exhibit - one of the new year's most significant - presents a selection of the brilliant ceramics that were the fruits of Picasso's collaboration with Madoura Pottery in Vallauris, France (where the Spanish artist resided from the late 1940s to the mid-'50s).


Judging by the pieces on display, Picasso was intrigued by the possibilities offered by ceramics.

Faces are seen on the contours of many vessels. On the hourglass-shaped pitcher "Visage avec des Cercles," thick green streaks stand in for eyes and a nose; another pitcher, the more evenly proportioned "Chope Visage," renders a female face in delicate blue lines, including dabs to evoke a Cupid's bow on the lips.

Animals of all types are also prominent. For example, "Chouette" is molded in the shape of a white-and-gray-flecked owl with a spoutlike tail, while the plate "Tete de Chevre de Profil" depicts a goat in profile; the animal's visible eye is adorned with boldly rendered eyelashes.

In fact, plates seem to have been substitute canvases for Picasso. In "Picador," a horseback-riding figure tangos with a bull; in "Service Visage Noir, D," a female face is outlined in white against a black background - two patches of red suggest blushing or the presence of rouge.

An exhibit of Picasso's ceramics would be eye-popping on its own, but the gallery supplements it with a striking survey of prints. Artists of Picasso's epoch - including Alexander Calder (1898-1976), Fernand Leger (1881-1955) and Joan Miro (1893-1983) - are also featured.


Calder's lithograph "Les Fleurs" is a masterpiece in primary colors, featuring a branch bearing leaves in red, yellow and blue. The work is free-associational, too: Some leaves resemble the shape of the fleur-de-lis, so an actual fleur-de-lis is depicted on the right side of the picture; other leaves are heart-shaped, so an actual heart is seen near the top.

Miro's kinetic etching "Danseuse Creole" depicts what is essentially a red stick figure with a yellow, egglike object in the center of its head; swirling black lines drawn on top of the figure indicate a dancer's movement (as referred to in the title).

More serene is Leger's lithograph "Les Deux Visages," which offers a side-by-side portrait of two women - one facing the viewer, the other in profile, and both wearing wry, knowing expressions.

Such works encapsulate the spirit of Picasso and the other artists included here: ebullient, inventive and forever 
fascinating.

 

 



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