Picasso Center in Horta displays eight new depictions of village made in 1901 and 1903

Exhibition brings together reproductions of oil paintings, watercolors and drawings from museums and private collections around the world

Elies Gastón, head of the Picasso Center in Horta, points to a reproduction of one of the painter's works depicting the village
Elies Gastón, head of the Picasso Center in Horta, points to a reproduction of one of the painter's works depicting the village / Anna Ferràs

ACN | @agenciaacn | Horta de Sant Joan

April 5, 2023 05:54 PM

April 5, 2023 06:26 PM

A gallery in Horta de Sant Joan in the rural south of Catalonia has brought together eight works made by Pablo Picasso depicting his recollections of his first stay in the mountain village where he recovered from illness as a young man 125 years ago. 

The Picasso Center in Horta, Terra Alta county, has added eight reproductions to its collection, some of works made in 1903, and others of works done in Barcelona in 1901 as Picasso sought refuge in his memories of Horta after the suicide of his friend in Paris, the painter Carles Casagemas. 

Elies Gastón of the Picasso Center in Horta explains how the village inspired the painter

Scenes depicted by Picasso include a bull festival in the town square and a type of dance called the jota, as well images of townspeople and houses in the village, including the home of his friend Manuel Pallarès. 

Pallarès, who was also an artist, invited Picasso to Horta in 1898 to aid his recovery from scarlet fever, and the Málaga-born painter returned for a second stint in 1909.

The original oil paintings made in 1901 are now in the Kunsthaus Zürich in Switzerland, the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, and the Fogg Museum at Harvard University in the United States. 

The watercolors and ink and pencil drawings from 1903 are housed in the Picasso Museum in Paris, France, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (US), the Von der Heydt Museum in Wuppertal (Germany), and a private collection in Switzerland. 

The process of making the reproductions was "laborious, but feasible," according to Elies Gastón, head of Horta's Picasso Center. 

Lack of funding 

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Picasso's death. While the culture ministries of France and Spain have announced a series of exhibitions at galleries around the world, including in Barcelona, Horta's Picasso Center says a lack of funding means it is unable to properly mark the occasion. 

"We only aspire to survive, to be able to open, to show the reproductions we have and explain the sentimental and artistic ties between Picasso and the village," Gastón says. 

The Catalan government has told the Horta gallery that it cannot form part of its network of funded museums because it does not house original works, although Barcelona's Picasso Museum has been willing to lend works that it has in storage. 

"Picasso's time in Horta is important enough for the county, for the Terres de l'Ebre region and for Catalonia, so that the authorities – either the Catalan government or the Spanish government's local administration in Tarragona – value it and provide some kind of help to enable us to move forward," Gastón says.