BWW Interviews: Olivier Widmaier Picasso - In the Shadow of Pablo, One Picasso Shines Brightly

In the shadow of Pablo, one Picasso shines brightly

by Barry Kostrinsky

"It is possible to be a Rothchild after Rothchild but it is impossible to be Picasso after Picasso." Olivier Picasso

Seeing Olivier Widmaier Picasso for the first time you can not help but notice the resemblance to his grandfather, the father of modern art, Pablo Picasso. Beyond an admitted nose-likeness he does resemble Pablo on some deeper level. Was I looking for this and did that cloud an objective view?-Hard to tell in this dream we call life.

Grandson of Picasso, Grandson of Marie-Therese, Son of Maya Widmaier-Picasso. Olivier Picasso is often thought of as 'of' this and that. From what I saw in our meeting atop the Mandarin Orient's 26th floor lobby, Olivier is an interesting fellow of many sorts. His dialogue was alive and warm. The legacy of a famed grandson is often hard to bear and can leave scars. Instead of scars I found a creative spirit and a free mind that did not fall from the tree of that great deep visual madman who's Oeuvre comprises careers worthy of ten great artists. Only from Leonardo could you clone out a larger stable.

Portrait of Marie-Therese, affectionately referred to as "Grandmother" by Olivier as he scrolled through is I-phone photos.

Olivier's insight into Pablo's art and passion for spontaneity had me thinking anew about an old friend. He made me pause and ponder Pablo's theatrical work with Diaglhilev as early Surrealism. These were thoughts not weened from a pre-teens infrequent meeting with a distant poppa. It comes from insight.

Olivier wrote " Picasso: The Real Family Story" in 2002. Out in Paris and soon to be released in the United States is "Picasso: The Intimate Story." Indeed Olivier expressed how hard it is to write about family- heck it is hard to live with 'em too. I can relate and know it can even be hard to paint from personal experience though this is de rigueuer the last hundred years. For Pablo, painting Marie-Therese and others was a way to express how he felt. While Olivier was in the US for an important cause it is funny to note how he entered freely where his grandfather could not go. Pablo never stepped foot on US soil and was denied entry to his solo exhibit at MOMA during the McCarthy era in the late 1950's. We have a few skeletons in our cultural closet.

Tyre: The Triumphal Arch with modern Tyre encroaching in the background

Picasso's tour is being organized by the International Association to Save Tyre (IAST), a leading NGO in Lebanon whose mission is the implementation of activities aimed at heritage protection, the preservation of the marine environment, the rehabilitation of traditional crafts, the promotion of cultural tourism and socio-economic development. Reem Chalabi, the daughter of Maha Chalabi - the founder of AIST is passionate about the casue and has known Olivier since they were kids. I should have gone to that school!

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Barry Kostrinsky Barry Kostrinsky is the founder of Haven Arts Gallery a large gallery and performance space that reinvigorated the South Bronx arts scene from 2004-2009. The Municipal Arts Society (MAS) awarded haven Arts a certificate of merit in 2006.

Barry has contributed to a variety of panels including a NYC Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) Percent for art program, and a Bronx Museum symposium for the Artist in the Artists in Marketplace (AIM) program. Barry formed and moderated a talk for the Artists Talk on Art(ATOA) Series at The School of Visual arts (SVA) that discussed the history of contemporary arts in the Bronx.

Currently Barry serves as a member of the Arts in Public Places (AIPP) committee for Rockland County.

His past experiences managing a family run manufacturing company in the South Bronx for 20+ years gives him a uniquely balanced view of the art world.

He worked in finance and banking from 2010-2013 for a small independent company and then for Bank of America. As a result he sees the art world from both the aesthetic side and the financial market it is.

As an artist Barry has exhibited in group shows in NYC. He works in a variety of medium including oil paints, acrylics, watercolor,photography and mixed medium. Where as the oil paintings are mostly plein-air works not unlike the impressionists and post-impressionist, his acrylic work is quite contemporary and often on found objects including car parts, light bulbs, beds and more. His photographic work ranges from serene nature shots, to street detritus and include playing with simple I-Phone applications to manipulate photos taken with his phone. He shoots with old fashioned polaroids and enjoys the restrictions compelled by the lack of choices with the toy like cameras.

Barry special ability is to be able to see others artists work from the eyes of an artist and to dialogue with artists in a meaningful way about their art and where they are going.

As a youth Barry was a math major at Vassar College and graduated in 1982. His High School days at New Rochelle High enabled him to develop his artists talents, Mr. Blackburn was an inspiring teacher. He spent the summer before senior year at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and had a firm footing in the arts before college. By chance Vassar had one of the best art history departments in the US and he studied with Linda Nochlin, Susan Kuretsky and in is rookie year, Ken Silver.

He is a proud father of three grown kids ages 25,25 (twins is the way to start) and 20.

Like so many of us he is recently divorced.

Barry has a strong passion for all things arts related and his love for cooking and eating run a close second.

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by Barry Kostrinsky