archive
links
essays

A Weekend with Pablo Picasso

[On April 9, 2013, the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced that it had received one of the most significant gifts in its history—78 Cubist paintings, drawings, and sculptures (including 33 by Picasso) from the collection of philanthropist and cosmetics tycoon Leonard A. Lauder.]

Consider the great one-man auto-biographical send ups, for example, Hal Holbrook in "Mark Twain Tonight!" or Frank Gorshin as George Burns in "Goodnight, Gracie." At a certain point, after many shows, the actor is actually channelling the subject. Yes, yes, I know: sometimes this happens in a single run; but we're talking about a different animal—one which convinces you that you have just spent an evening with someone who died and has inexplicably reappeared to pass along some magnificent insights and encouragement, as well as to challenge you.

Herbert Siguenza as Pablo Picasso
Herbert Siguenza as Pablo Picasso
Photo: Jennifer M Koskinen
Such is Herbert Siguenza in "A Weekend with Pablo Picasso," which he wrote and in which he plays a man whose surname has become synonymous with his passion and occupation—Art.

As an artist, first and foremost, Siguenza playing Picasso seems like a match made in heaven. Built like a bull and, with some minor help in the makeup department, similarly balding and intense of countenance, Siguenza comes very close on a physical level; but it is the similarity of Siguenza's and Picasso's artistic temperament that acts as the poetic license and universal solvent against any disbelief in the conceit.

Herbert Siguenza as Pablo Picasso
Herbert Siguenza as Pablo Picasso
Photo: Jennifer M Koskinen
Siguenza, as the writer, weaves together direct quotations and writings from Picasso's own pen that provide an authentic, enriching, and enlightening portrait of the man who redefined the convergence of life and art. This is a man prepared to sketch or paint at the drop of a hat, in trade for a meal or cash, and never compromise the talent he continued to accumulate throughout his long life.

For an artist who came to acting late, Siguenza is a natural talent amplified by the choice of a subject so near and dear to his heart. Picasso's best lines are delivered as we would expect Picasso to do so, with passion, erudition, and insight.

As in the Mark Rothko tribute, Red, the actor playing the master actually paints on stage; but in Siguenza's case, he whips out Picasso-esque images with aplomb.

Herbert Siguenza as Pablo Picasso
Herbert Siguenza as Pablo Picasso
Photo: Jennifer M Koskinen
All this brings us back to the subject, the man, who was much bigger than the famous cubist paintings with which we commonly associate him. To Picasso, his own talent was not unusual; he believed that "all children are artists"—the trick is "how to remain one as adult." Siguenza delights in Picasso's child-like exuberance and curiousity. To Picasso, "Painting is a way of keeping a diary," so he dates his work. And work he does, spending hefty periods in his studio, away from his family. "Your work should be the ultimate seduction, the ultimate pleasure."

More kudos to Siguenza for staying true to Picasso's politics: he remained a Communist despite Stalin's czarist behavior, because this philosophy was his "connection to the people."

The Denver Center Theatre Company's presentation of A Weekend with Pablo Picasso runs through April 28th. For tickets: 303-893-4100 or www.denvercenter.org.

Bob Bows

 

Current Reviews | Home | Webmaster