He arrived in “the city of wind and rain” in the autumn of 1891. In contrast to the sun and heat of Málaga, A Coruña made a strong impact on the nine-year-old Pablo, the boy he called “the tower of candy”. to that lighthouse on the hill, the Tower of Hercules, which dominates the Atlantic landscape. Although Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) barely spent five years in Galicia, that stage -the most unknown- decisively marked the budding artist. Here he painted his first oil portrait (that of his sister Lola), drew his first nude (a girl he had seen on the Riazor beach), sketched his first -and few- seascapes, created his first newspaper… The first Picasso was forged in “the city of wind and rain”, as he referred to A Coruña.

Within the framework of the celebration of the Picasso Year, which commemorates the 50th anniversary of his death, the Xunta de Galicia organizes the exhibition Picasso, white in the blue memory, how the adolescent’s personality was formed, at the Museum of Fine Arts of A Coruña. his political conscience and his then academic and virtuous line. Galicia laid the foundations of who would later be Picasso, both creative (in this early period he signed himself as P. Ruiz) and sentimental (he fell in love with a girl, Ángeles Méndez, whose name he stamped on his school books). .

«We want to vindicate the role of A Coruña in the artistic formation of Picasso and how the aesthetic foundations of that period transcended into his future in elements as important as the themes, the iconography or the concept. All the things he learned in A Coruña survived throughout his life”, explains Malén Gual, curator of the exhibition together with Antón Castro and Rubén Ventureira. In 2015, the Museum of Fine Arts already organized a seminal exhibition, El primer Picasso, in which he discovered the decisive influence of his Galician stage and how works he painted in those early years would later be motifs and themes taken up again in full cubist explosion or being already a painter of more than 70 years. In Blanco en el recuerdo azul, a verse by Picasso himself taken from a 1935 poem that seems dedicated to the rugged Galician coast, some of these parallels are shown with works on loan from more than 30 international institutions and private collections. For example, the faun that a 12-year-old Pablo drew in charcoal as an exercise for the School of Fine Arts is confronted with a completely geometric gray Faun’s Head, in oil and graphite, that a consolidated Picasso painted in 1946 on the French Riviera .

Among the multiple curiosities in the exhibition (such as the drawings of his dog Clipper), the bagpipe stands out as a symbol and motif. If in his Coruña years Picasso drew a bagpiper, a pilgrimage and also the bagpipe, in his formally cubist stage he introduced it in the still life Nature morte aux instruments de musique sur une table (1913), in which a guitar appears, a gralla and… the bagpipes.

Picasso’s period in A Coruña is marked by his two sisters: Lola, who would be his first model, and little Conchita. He dedicated his first oil painting to Lola, a realistic portrait, according to the academic canon, in which she appears with a mantilla (an element that will recur in his later portraits of women). In her notebooks he also used to draw her: the page on which she appears seated with a doll is confronted with the painting Maya à la poupée (1938), which Picasso would paint for her three-year-old daughter. If his sister Lola was the first muse, the last would be his wife Jacqueline, whom he painted almost obsessively until the end of his life and of whom one of the paintings from the famous series Le peintre et son modèle (Le peintre et son modèle) is exhibited. 1963).

Despite the happy Galician years, the departure of the Ruiz Picasso family was precipitated by tragedy: little Conchita died of diphtheria at the age of 7. A terrible blow for Pablo, who was then 13 years old and had sworn that he would stop painting if his sister was saved from him, an anecdote that he himself would tell years later to his wife Françoise Gilot and also to Jacqueline. Conchita was buried in the municipal cemetery, today San Amaro, although the exact place of her grave is unknown. Something of Picasso would remain forever in the windy city, with his tower of candy.

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