Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Did Picasso Suffer From Migraine?

This question was asked by the Art historian Arthur O. Eger.(Decorative Kunst, De Bilt, 1995) He had been impressed by the similarities between migrainous visual hallucinations and the geometric forms of decorative ornaments, and between mosaic illusion and the visual features of Picasso’s cubist paintings.As an artist who has suffered from migraine since adolescence (I still do, although to a lesser extent than when younger), it is something that I don’t normally want to think about too much. However, I was reminded recently when I was contacted by a collective called AXNS, who are putting together an exhibition about Art and Neuroscience. They have invited me to show some of my work and to talk about how migraine has informed my work. I made a number of pieces directly related to migraine experience for competitions for which I managed to win several prizes.You can see them hereI think this had a balancing effect as I feel the prize money was a just compensation for all the migraine suffering.The work is owned by several pharmaceutical companies and I have suggested to AXNS that they borrow some for the exhibition, though how easy that will be remains to be seen.

I’ve realized that some of the recent work I showed at Da Gadderie, at the Shetland Museum and Archives, (see previous blog), has been influenced by migraine experience. In a lot of the drawings the image bleeds out of the picture, which is similar to the loss of peripheral vision that happens when I get a migraine. A much earlier connection with migraine, which at the time I didn’t realize, was my liking for the work of Giorgio De Chirico from the period 1912- 1924. It has been proven that he suffered severely from migraine (L’Aura di Giorgio de Chirico by Ubaldo Nicola and Klaus Podoll). So, was I attracted by the brilliance of his Metaphysical paintings, or subliminally, by the imagery that I recognized being used by a fellow migraine sufferer?

If the myth of the suffering artist is true, I’m with Picasso and de Chirico in that respect.

Migraine Man Tryptich, conte on paper, 1993, collection 
Glaxo, Smith, Kline

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