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Picasso's Guernica inspires anti-war theme in contemporary art

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Pablo Picasso created his masterpiece mural "Guernica" in 1937 to express his outrage at the Nazis for bombing the small town of Guernica, Spain. Hundreds of innocent people were killed and the city was destroyed. Over the years, his depiction of war's horror and violence has grown into an anti-war symbol.

The Smokebrush Gallery is currently showcasing the work of nearly 30 local and national artists in an exhibition entitled Reimagining Guernica. Julie Cole, the gallery's director, says Picasso's work "continues to function as an act of resistance to death and destruction that even today inspires other forms of artistic opposition."

In "Soul Casualty," local artist Pat Musick explores the cost of war to the soul of humanity. Stressing the "brutality" of the visually dominant bull and attributing a shell-shocked "vacant stare of the combat vet" to the equine symbol of innocence, her interpretation is rich with meaning. The centaur representing the best human qualities is noticeably traumatized and defeated. Musick views "Guernica" through the lens of current events, interpreting both the visual and symbolic aspects with powerful insight.

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Other artists in the exhibition were inspired solely by Picasso as a master painter. Local artist John Ellis explains how the piece "doesn't speak to me on [a political] level. Picasso was a genius of shape." Ellis' painting, "Kill Lies All," a bold, colorful interpretation, takes the "tortured horse" image of "Guernica" and turns it into a symbol of "change and hope."

Jeffrey R. DeMers, another local artist, says he is "in love with shapes" and wants to "preserve" them in his work. In "Decloguernica," DeMers takes shapes from the original Picasso and spreads them out, turning them into newsprint-filled images that he says are filled with text about the war in Iraq. "There are still injustices in the world ... lessons from the past that we haven't learned, that we are still repeating."


Reimagining Guernica

Smokebrush Gallery, 218 W. Colorado Ave.

Saturday, noon to 5 p.m.

Call 444-1012 or visit smokebrush.org for more information.

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