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!