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I know Picasso was a good person because he was a good artist. The same’s true of truly funny people. There’s an obvious goodness at the heart, that makes their comedy so funny. I don’t believe this can come from someone who doesn’t have this goodness intrinsically woven into them. Genius, however, is a terrible psychological affliction when it’s not being put to good use. I’m sure Picasso struggled with this his whole life, as must have those around him. But, if you choose to get involved with a genius…
Picasso’s my favourite artist. The others of my Mount Rushmore Four are Klee, Miro and Cezanne, but none of them come close to Picasso. I’m fascinated by how he must have seen and experienced the world. Like a benevolent alien king wandering around, kindly resisting the urge to zap us all into oblivion.
Picasso’s also well known for, allegedy, being an arsehole. Statistics prove that virtually all arsehole accusations entirely depend on which chunks of a person’s life the accuser chooses to focus on. Suggesting these accusations are, to a large extent, unintentionally autobiographical. Picasso is a serial victim of such accusations. Which chunks of Picasso’s life repeatedly get wheeled out for our judgement? Inevitably, the more controversial prove to be the most memorable, sensational and, subsequently, retold.
Then consider whose perspective these stories are told from. Imagine if your ex’s got together and wrote a book about you. Would it be a glowing reccommendation? Or would it tear you to shreds and be 99% bullshit? Much of what we ‘know’ about Picasso is based on the suspiciously prolific and lucrative testimonies of his ex-girlfriends.
I could fill a book with examples of me being an arsehole. I don’t believe there’s a person alive who couldn’t. Any honest autobiography would be utterly scathing from cover to cover.
Genius is a tempest. It doesn’t sit obediently in the corner of your brain waiting for you to pick up a paint brush, I can tell you. It’s a rabid sadistic destructive nightmare. We can’t judge geniuses as if they’re regular people. If you want to slag off Picasso, fine, show me a painting you’ve done as good as any from his late period, and I’ll listen. Speaking of which…
My next exhibition:
Exhibition Title: Heckel’s Horse Jr.
Venue: Highgate Gallery at Highgate Literary & Scientific Institution
11 South Grove
London N6 6BS
8th March 2024, 6 – 8.30pm
Exhibition runs until
21st March 2024
Heckel’s Horse Jr. is not to be confused with Heckel’s Horse.
Heckel’s Horse Jr. is an alias used by Edgeworth Johnstone. Under this alias, Johnstone paints works based on Heckel’s Horse paintings in his home studio in Muswell Hill, London.
Heckel’s Horse is a painting collaboration between Billy Childish and Edgeworth Johnstone. Since 2013, Childish and Johnstone have made roughly 200 paintings together, at Childish’s studio in Chatham Dockyard.
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