Picasso’s Women – (rating 5/5)
Even those with a passing interest in art will be familiar with the work of Picasso, the painter, sculptor, writer and poet who helped create a Cubist style that became an unmistakeable trademark.
While he made his home in France he was adored by his Spanish countrymen who helped create a cult of celebrity around him as he amassed a fortune and a global reputation as one of the 20th century’s great artists.
He was also a womaniser who was married twice and had four children by three women. Throughout his life Picasso maintained several mistresses in addition to his wife or primary partner and many of these were tempestuous relationships.
Picasso’s Women gives us powerful monologues by three of those partners, each one lured by his passion, and betrayed by his disloyalty.
He was cruel and violent to the French artist and model Fernande Olivier (Judith Paris) who knew him before he became famous. He treated Olga Khokhlova (Colette Redgrave of the famous acting family), his wife until 1955, with disdain, ruining her career as a ballerina. The gymnast Marie-Therese Walter (Kirsten Moore) met him in a Paris street aged just 17 while he was still married to Khokhlova. She gave birth to their daughter Maya Widmaier-Picasso but the relationship ended when he moved on to his next mistress.
Each half-hour monologue, three of eight written by Brian McAvera, lets us share the passion that each woman felt for the artist, and their frustration and bitterness at how he mistreated them.
McAvera’s script is poetic and lyrical, embracing the full range of emotions from desire and elation, to anger and despair.
There is humour too, but it is tinged with sadness and irony; that a man so revered by the wider public could be so hurtful to those who shared his personal life.
The production was premiered in 2000 and is delivered here with a brutal honesty that will resonate with women today in the examination of their relationships with powerful men.
Fruitmarket Gallery until 26 August (not 21)