When still at university, I was requested by our cultural secretary to recreate Picasso’s ‘The Aficionado’ as an entry for a cultural event held every year in our campus at IIT Delhi. The idea was to pay a tribute to a famous artist through his work. This was the second time I was recreating the works of the cubist artist- ‘Guernica’ being the first.
Pablo Picasso’s ‘The Aficionado’ also called ‘The Torero’ -oil on canvas was originally painted in Sorgues, France in 1912. Presently preserved in a museum at Basel in Switzerland, this painting is one of Picasso’s very important works from his Bull fighting series.
It is part of his transition towards synthetic cubism, a technique invented by French painter George Barque, which includes usage of letters, words and collages. Hence the words, Nîmes, Olé, Le Toréro. All these words relate to Bull fighting which Picasso seems to have been obsessed with at that point of time. In one of the letters to Braque he seemed to have mentioned how he could not stop thinking of them and that he even transformed a painting that he had started of a man into Aficionado.
I remember after my intern work that I was doing at that time, I had just managed to be there for the cultural event in the evening, for which I had done the painting. As I entered the campus, few of my mates who had already been in, complimented me on my work. I was quiet thrilled with the response and so rushed myself into the exhibition stalls only to find out that the painting was hanging upside down. I had almost turned it around to hang it the right way, when I was told by our very excited secretary that the jury had already judged it.
I chuckled throughout the evening, smiling all the way back thinking about it. And the next thing I knew I was awarded a trophy for ‘the best contribution to the cultural society’ for this and my other works. I am not sure what happened to my painting after that but where ever it is now, I hope it lies hanging the right way up.