Picasso, six months later, 'Atelier Picasso' Review – BASTIAN Gallery

September 3rd – October 31st 2020

Free Entry

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Attending BASTIAN this week was my first time returning to a gallery post lockdown, as well as my first time visiting BASTIAN, and it was absolutely refreshing. It’s small, quiet gallery which is sensitive to Covid safety measures. While initially it seemed unapproachable, something about its location in Mayfair and the fact it’s a hub for art dealers, it turned out to be very welcoming. BASTIAN opened in February of 2019, and it was wonderful to be visiting a new art space in the city.

Image: BASTIAN Gallery, courtesy of Luke Andrew Walker

Funnily enough, the last exhibition I attended before lockdown was the RA’s Picasso and Paper, so there was an extra element of sentimentality for me. As I stared at echoes of pieces I’d been looking at half a year earlier, I reflected on how it seemed, just for an beautiful instant, like the last six months hadn’t happened. These echoes, however, gave me yet another chance to piece together how Picasso worked through his preoccupations. Throughout the RA’s exhibition we were led through the full extent of Picasso’s life, conversely BASTIAN gives us a more specific snapshot of his time in Cannes at Villa La Californie following the Second World War.

The exhibition contains a real breadth of mediums: pottery, prints, paintings with photos taken by André Villers interspersed throughout. Picasso’s range is displayed in full, with depth and variation placed front and centre. Simple, sparse line drawings, Fleurs (1948), are contrasted with lithographs made with bright bold colours, Seated Woman (Dora Maar) (1955), two dimensional work is hung alongside ceramics such as Picador (1953).

Image: BASTIAN Gallery, courtesy of Luke Andrew Walker

A highlight of the collection for me was Minotaur Caressing a Sleeping Woman (1933-1934) which is a haunting image. It exemplifies chiaroscuro in reflection of morality, Picasso’s fascination with Classicism and turmoil with the desiring, sexual self. I was also incredibly enamoured with the Villers’ beautiful photographs which casually depict him; working, standing in his studio, at the beach, generating an unstaged intimacy. A esteemed name becomes human, cigarette in hand, skin and body hair exposed, completely vulnerable.

My only qualm was that the exhibition is described to be an “immersive experience” and “instillation”, which I’d say are slightly misleading, overly generous description of what the gallery contains. While there may be unique elements, such as a scattering of Picasso’s possessions throughout, it definitely can’t be considered an instillation. Villers’ images depict Picasso’s studio as a fantastic chaos, but the BASTIAN is organised and meditated. Regardless, the opportunity to see objects which would have been features of Picasso’s studio, treasured items and sources of inspiration, is magical.

Image: BASTIAN Gallery, courtesy of Luke Andrew Walker

It’s a real marvel that over seventy Picasso pieces are available to be seen for free. The exhibition is incredibly digestible, easily seen in under half an hour. If you are in the area I couldn’t recommend it enough, it is a remarkable collection.






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