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Picasso - Portillo's peculiar perspective
Ian Pattison reviews Portillo on Picasso, an episode from the ITV series Perspectives.
A recent repeat of an ITV show Perspectives brought a rare shock. I was appalled to see my favourite artist Pablo Picasso being adored by one of my least favourite politicians, Michael Portillo. Portillo's father, Luis, and Picasso were both born in Spain, and were exiled during the years of fascist dictator Franco's vicious rule. Picasso would never return, he died before the dictatorship fell.
Luis Portillo was a stretcher bearer in the Republican forces in their battle with the fascist Franco during the Spanish Revolution. But his son Michael chose to join the same Conservative Party in the 1970s that had refused to give support to his father's struggle four decades earlier.
Portillo senior made a brave stand like hundreds of thousands around the globe against the sweep of the fascist tide in Spain, but Michael Portillo became a member of Thatcher's government, which at the time backed another far right dictator, Pinochet, in Chile.
Picasso's enormous collection of paintings and artwork are magnificent. He developed a revolutionary style, cubism, where scenes and objects are viewed simultaneously from multiple directions on a 2D canvas.
Russian revolutionary socialist Leon Trotsky (who wrote 'Art and Revolution') said "art should be judged first and foremost by the rules of art", but we can't ignore the influences on Picasso.
These included the revolutionary struggle in Spain, and his horror at witnessing the destruction extolled by fascism, capitalism, and war.
Picasso's most famous painting, Guernica, was commissioned to win support for the Republican cause.
Beautifully crafted to demonstrate the brutality of war, Guernica depicts the terrible blanket bombing of the Basque town of that name by the Nazis in 1937. Tory Portillo would like us to think Guernica is more about Picasso's love of bull-fighting than his sympathy for the Spanish revolution!
Exiled and living in France, Picasso was caught in the radical surge after World War Two. He joined the French Communist Party and remained a member until his death.
In The Socialist 8 July 2015:
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