You know in a pub quiz, when the picture round is 'Famous people's eyes'? I have never come across these eyes in such a quiz. It's just too easy to guess. Oh, the intensity. If Picasso hadn't been a famous painter, perhaps the most famous painter of all time, it's not difficult to imagine these eyes staring out from a mug shot, an infamous mass murderer awaiting trial and execution. Yes, strangely enough, in this most self-assured, perhaps a bit megalomaniac, artist's eyes, I also see fear.
The Arts Society of Mallorca has done it again! Super-kudos to their programme secretary Eddie Erlank (above) - he is like a heat-seeking missile in finding the best, most riveting speakers. Yes, riveting! People were on the edge of their seats as Val Woodgate listed the possible 1% (7) of all the girls and women Pablo Picasso restlessly ploughed through during his long life, with more or less disastrous consequences. Even I knew that two of them had committed suicide, but I didn't know that both of them had done it on or close to his birthday. The ultimate self-harm as revenge, hoping that NOW he'd be sorry?
And yes, as the very funny Woodgate remarked: "Picasso was devastated. For four, five... almost a week!" Everybody chuckled of course, as we did when she said he was a serial monogamist ... with many overlappings. Yes, comedy is tragedy plus time. But I couldn't help thinking of these women. Forget about the dumping and overlapping; how could he have treated them while they were together? Was he so kind, interesting and attentive great in bed that they never forgot him and chose to kill themselves when they saw there was no chance of getting him back? But if yes, how does that explain his son drinking himself to death and his grandson also killing himself?
With the women it's easy to imagine him first fixing those laser-beams on them and staring them down, then treating them as if they were the only woman in the world, showering them with attention (maybe the first time anyone had done that) and making them feel like a goddess. For a week. And then dropping them so hard that they never recovered. It's harder to see how he could have such a devastating effect on children and grandchildren, but as his granddaughter Marina said in her book Picasso: My Grandfather: "''He drove everyone who got near him to despair and engulfed them. No one in my family ever managed to escape from the stranglehold of this genius. He needed blood to sign each of his paintings: my father's blood, my brother's, my mother's, my grandmother's and mine. He needed the blood of those who loved him -- people who thought they loved a human being, whereas they really loved Picasso.''
So - yeah! Cheers! It was such a good talk though, by a woman on top of her game. She made me interested in finding out more about Picasso, an artist I have hitherto ignored. I really only like his blue period where you can see what everything is and there aren't dicks sticking out of each nostril, but Woodgate fortunately showed us some of his early work. At the age of 13, he was already a very accomplished painter with the technical skills most artists three times his age can only salivate about. I KNEW it! To be able to break so many rules so virtuously, you just have to follow them first.
But geniuses are always excused, aren't they? I wonder if he would have got away with such behaviour had he been born in, say 1979. But then he wouldn't have been Picasso anyway, and had the upbringing and brain construction/underactive cortex that together create the type of genius that is driven (I'm guessing here) by fear of spending even a second not being the greatest, most potent man on earth.
If you live in Mallorca and want a deeply interesting, very different (and social) experience once a month, join The Arts Society! It's only 70 euros for a whole years' worth of being riveted! And the wine and tapas afterwards are very, very good.
P.S. The photos have nothing to do with Picasso or his relatives. They are just of fun people and wine I met.