Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Meet Picasso's Talented Black Cuban Cousin...

Strom Thurmond And Thomas Jefferson Ain't The Only Ones With Talented Black Relatives In Their Family ~ Tha Artivist

HAVANA (Reuters) - Being a distant cousin of the father of Cubism doesn't help when you are trying to make a start as a painter, even if you share his name. Juan Antonio Picasso, a Cuban mulatto descendant of Pablo Picasso's grandfather, opened an exhibition of 15 watercolors at a Havana gallery during the weekend.

"I'm proud to belong to the family of a great painter, the greatest of the 20th century," the budding artist said.

"At times the name is a burden, though," the 30-year-old bank clerk added.

His great-great-grandfather was Francisco Picasso Guardeno, who vanished in 1864 from Malaga, Spain, leaving behind his wife and four children, including Maria, the great artist's mother.

Like many Spaniards at the time, Francisco Picasso headed for Cuba, fell in love with the daughter of freed slaves, settled down and started another family.

His descendants had no clue they were related to Pablo Picasso until Cuban historian Barbara Mejides found the link in 1998, finding members of the black branch of the family who bore an amazing resemblance to the artist. A documentary film "The Black Picassos" further established the connection.

Researchers say Pablo Picasso knew he had relatives in Cuba and mentioned it to Cuban painter Wifredo Lam in Paris in the 1940's, but it is not known whether he showed any interest in tracing his Cuban cousins and never visited the island.

Juan Francisco has no pretensions of emulating his famous relative and says he prefers figurative to abstract art.

"I don't try to copy Picasso. I have studied his work a lot and would never try that. It is impossible. He is unique."

Finding Picasso In Havana:

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