During the last days of Picasso, the photographer’s gaze, the exhibition has had a luxury guest, the French photographer Bernard Plossu (1945), well known for his subtle and poetic landscapes in black and white and one of today’s major European photographers. While, in the photomontage of Joan Fontcuberta, which is included in the exhibition, Picasso wore two watches, then Plossu had two cameras hanging around his neck during the guided visit to the exhibition on Thursday12th September, accompanied by the director of the museum, Emmanuel Guigon, and the curator of the exhibition, Violeta Andrés.
Plossu, with his eyes wide open and with infinite curiosity, he showed a great complicity and a transversal attitude in front of the photographs of Picasso and his studios taken by various photographers but also of the ones taken by the Malaga painter himself. Plossu, who was asked questions by the host of the visit, Emmanuel Guigon, with whom he has published a book about Magritte, made it clear from the outset: “Many people must think that Picasso was only an amateur photographer. No! Picasso was a photographer!”. He said this in the first room of the exhibition where the photographs were hung that Picasso took during his second stay at Horta de Sant Joan in 1909. The portraits of the villagers and of the landscape led to a reflection about the relation between cubism and photography: “The good photographer is a dancer who sees cubism in a natural way”.
The National award-winner of French photography was also fascinated by the small size of the vintage copies of Picasso’s photos, something normal in a photographer who has been capable of capturing the greatness of the landscapes in very reduce-sized formats. But Plossu has also dedicated himself to urban landscape, as in the book Plossu Paris, published last year. Paris is a city that is very present in the exhibition, even if it is through the studios that Picasso had in the French capital. “Picasso is Paris. Each time I return to Paris it is a new city for me and I have to photograph it once again”, he assured. And the gallery owner and photograph collector Chantal Grande intervened in the visit about the relation between the cities and the two artists: “Any city would hand itself over to Plossu and also to Picasso. This is the greatness of both of them”.
Chantal Grande also highlighted the love for small details, the ones that are not visible to everybody, like another removed from the work of Bernard Plossu. This is demonstrated by the fact that the most surprising photograph of the whole exhibition is the one that shows the unfinished plaster sculpture Pregnant woman in the studio of La Fournas, in Valauri, done by Michel Mako in 1950. A fragment of the studio in which Picasso isn’t physically there “but he is there”.
The exhibition shows how aware Picasso was about the power of the photographic image, both when he “poses” as a painter, with the palette in his hand (something it seems in reality that he didn’t do), when he dressed up, or when he is the photographer, Violeta Andrés explained. Photography and painting are intimately inter-related in the work of Picasso but also in the work of Plossu, who confessed that his main influences come more from painting than from photography itself.
The visit ended with an intervention of Joan Fontcuberta, who in the epilogue of the exhibition exhibited a photomontage with a portrait of Picasso, done by André Villers, with a camera hanging around his neck. Everything seems very real but Fontcuberta is fooling us, as he does so many times in his work, to show us that photography isn’t the reality. Picasso wasn’t carrying a camera in the original photograph by Villers (but he was wearing two watches!!). It doesn’t matter because it turns out that in the end Picasso really was a photographer.