Rosa Amorós (Barcelona, 1945), an artist who has centred a large part of her life on ceramics, shows us in an enthusiastic way, in a book that she keeps in her studio, the photographs of David Douglas Duncan in which you can see Picasso transform the bones of a recently eaten fish into the central motif of a ceramic dish. This capacity of Picasso for the metamorphosis of everyday elements especially fascinates Rosa Amorós who holds the painter as one of her artists of reference.
Picasso in La Californie making Dish with fish fossil. Canes, April 1957. Modern digital copy by inkjet. 50 x 60 cm. David Douglas Duncan’s Archive. David Douglas Duncan. Arxiu Museu Picasso de Barcelona. FDDD/9/84. Photo Arxiu Museu Picasso, Barcelona © Succesión Pablo Picasso, VEGAP, Madrid 2019
Pablo Picasso. Bullfight and Fish (verso: Faces) . Cannes, [16 April] 1957. Thrown red earthenware with applied fish (white earthenware impressed with fish skeleton, transparent glaze, grey patina; cracked and repaired), decorated with patina and black oxide, partial brushed transparent glaze. 42 cm (diameter). Museu Picasso, Barcelona. Gift of Jacqueline Picasso, 1982. MPB 112.446. Photo: Museu Picasso, Barcelona. Photograph, Gasull Fotografia. © Succession Pablo Picasso, VEGAP, Madrid 2018
Given that ceramics is still considered the poor relation of the artistic disciplines, it also seems it is widely neglected among the immense work of Picasso. But Picasso didn’t believe in hierarchies in art and there is a moment in his life in which ceramics takes on a fundamental importance in his work. When he lived in the south of France, the encounter with the couple Suzanne and Georges Ramié, who ran the Madoura workshop in Vallauris, was crucial for Picasso, who immerged himself in an obsessive way in the world of mud and clay. Already, just in his first collaboration to the workshop, between July 1947 and October 1948, Picasso produced around 2,000 pieces of ceramics. “It seems that it was Suzanne Ramié who collaborated directly with Picasso. Ceramics, still nowadays, despite all the technological advances, is a process in which you cannot control the final result. I imagine that one of the things that must have fascinated Picasso most in terms of ceramics was this unexpected factor, the importance of luck. Ceramics is a work of trial and error, and for sure Picasso would have felt comfortable with this”, says Rosa Amorós.
The admiration of Amorós for Picasso goes back to her time as a student at the Escola Massana, in which one day she “fell in love”, she says, with the potter’s wheel, and she decided to dedicate herself to ceramics. “My first two museums, that I always visited when I was a student, were the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, because I adored Romanesque work, and the Museu Picasso, still during its first period, when it was very small. I have always admired the line in Picasso, and I remain dumbfounded when I see how he dominated the line in engravings. Of painting, at that time I really like the Blue Period and it even inspired me to paint blue women. And it goes without saying, I admired ceramics”.
Amorós admits that the influence of Picasso in her work was neither aesthetic or formal, but she did feel identified with the union between life and art that oozes out of Picasso’s work. “Formally Picasso has not influenced me but in the art of the 20th century there is a more analytical current with which I do not connect so much. Picasso, on the other hand, represents a tendency in art that is more united to life. Picasso’s inspiration is life, art emerges from his stomach, and this is what connects me with him”.
The artist also shares the same interest with the genius from Malaga for themes such as mythology, the human condition and nature. Picassian ceramics are absolutely linked to the tradition of classical Mediterranean cultures. “Many of Picasso’s pieces resemble Greek vases, with scenes of warriors, everyday life, gods, etc. And I have also treated the subject of ancient deities in my work,” explains the artist. And if life inspired Picasso, then death did so also, that is part of life. Rosa Amorós has also worked in depth, for example, in the iconography of the vanitas, the skulls that remind us that we are all mortals, and deeply admires the last period of Picasso, when the artist reflected on the premonition of his own death.