Picasso: Lessons for a working life

Picasso in thoughtI went to the Picasso exhibition at Brisbane Modern Art Gallery last week. It was an exhibition of lesser known drawings, prints and some of his own personal collection of paintings as well as photos of him in his various studios.

It was a welcome cultural fix but I also learnt some lessons that can influence our working lives.

  • You don’t have to be perfect. Not everything Picasso did was a masterpiece. There were sketches and doodles displayed that he could have dashed off in no time at all when he was clearly just playing. We should be more like this. Don’t expect everything you do to be a masterpiece first time. Don’t expect to walk into your perfect job tomorrow. But play…try things out…ask your friends…relax…and in time one of the things you do will be a masterpiece.
  • Be authentic. Many of the pieces Picasso collected were from friends or by friends, people he admired, phases he went through. Each tells of something he saw in them that wasn’t necessarily obvious. Some of the pieces are rough and basic, some of great artistic importance. He just collected what he liked. The sketches were of real people, with bulbous noses, or real stomachs. Naked people with no airbrushing. Sex without the porn. All of these images are authentic and untouched by media worship. Stop trying to be what others want you to be. Stop trying to like what you think others want you to like. Just be authentic. Get to know yourself and investigate the original you. What makes you light up with enthusiasm?
  • Don’t put yourself in a box. You can be many people. Don’t constrain what talents you have. Did you know that Picasso also wrote poetry? He was not just a visual artist. He expressed himself in many ways. You don’t have to define yourself by your job alone.
  • Let inspiration guide you. One of Picasso’s most famous paintings is Guernica, a copy of which is displayed in the United Nations headquarters. He was inspired to paint it after the Nazi bombing of this little Spanish town and it has continued to inspire people with it’s anti-war message. We need to allow ourselves to be moved, and when we are inspired, to act. Don’t let the day in-day out working life kill inspiration and passion. You can still be someone who is moved and who acts powerfully. You are still someone important.

It is necessary to get out of your normal head space sometimes, in order to see beyond your current situation. The lessons we need to learn can sometimes come from surprising places.
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