Picasso’s work seen from new angle in immersive Imagine Picasso

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Imagine Picasso | Annabelle Mauger and Julien Baron | Vancouver Convention Centre | October 27, 2021 – January 8, 2022

Origami birds dance on the floor, line drawings come to life on surrounding walls, and children’s laughter fills the space with an energetic tone. Each scene in Imagine Picasso is crafted to bring one or more of his works to life in a new way – they are enlarged, divided, animated, set to music. And it all takes place on massive walls and angular, geometric surfaces that immerse attendees in Picasso’s works.

After the success of Imagine Van Gogh in Vancouver, the same Image Totale team, Annabelle Mauger and Julien Baron, brings us this large scale event to see the modern art master’s artworks in a new way. In collaboration with art historian Androula Michael and architect Rudy Ricciotti, they developed large, sculpted surfaces on which to project the works that are inspired by the paper sculptures Picasso made for his children.

Before entering the exhibition hall, there is an information area with many informative panels describing all aspects of Picasso’s work and life. Along the side wall is a display of every work (over 200) featured in the exhibition. Every period is represented, from his portraits to line drawings to his cubist works and flowers and landscapes. It would have been very appreciated to be able to take away a printed brochure outlining all the works and their titles and be able to refer to it while in the exhibition, but nevertheless seeing so many works in this way was impressive.  

Once in the large exhibition space, standing in different spots provides different perspectives and angles by which to see and experience the works. One part of a painting may be shown on one wall, while another is on another, and the entire work is blown up elsewhere. In this way, it’s important to move around the space and stay for at least two rounds of the approximately 30 minute presentation—it’s easy to miss things the first time around.  

One of the most inspired moments was one of Picasso’s collages being put together piece by piece on the giant wall, another was a deconstructed painting of the blue acrobat, with stars and moons scattered throughout the room. Les Desmoiselles d’Avignoni, already seemingly patched together with angular shapes and harsh lines, is likewise deconstructed and enlarged in order to provide close up views of different parts of the work. It’s stunning to experience Picasso’s works in this way. Guernica is another highlight – the painting gradually came into view as flames flickered below it.

Music by composers who were Picasso’s contemporaries, including Satie and Ravel, accompany the works signalling transitions and evoking different emotional tones. Compared to Imagine Van Gogh, the transitions are slower and the tone is calmer, more cheerful overall. Anyone who is familiar with Picasso’s works will be drawn in by the immersive nature of this exhibition and the ability to participate in viewing them from new angles and perspectives. The immersive experience of seeing these classic artworks on this scale is stunning.

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