Museo Picasso Málaga’s exhibition Picasso’s South. Andalusian References takes a look at the history of Spanish art by displaying works by Picasso alongside valuable archaeological artefacts and paintings by great masters such as Zurbarán, Velázquez, Murillo, Goya, María Blanchard and Juan Gris, amongst others. This ambitious show moves from Iberian art through Classical Antiquity, and ends with the modern art of Picasso’s own contemporaries.

The influence of the Mediterranean, the magical gaze, the portrait throughout history, the classical, the depiction of life and death in the Baroque period, the pietá, archetypes and rites are just some of the ideas behind this exploration of subjects that formed part of Picasso’s iconography, such as the bullfight, still-life, vanitas paintings, motherhood and rituals.

Picasso’s South. Andalusian References provides a synthesis of Spanish art history, displaying works by Pablo Picasso alongside valuable archaeological artefacts and paintings by great Spanish masters, in an ambitious show that moves from Iberian art through Classical Antiquity, the Baroque, and ends when the Malaga-born artist had become a guiding figure to his contemporaries and the protagonist of an essential chapter in Spanish modern art.

This exhibition explores the intellectual journey that Picasso made from south to north, using the symbolic heritage of his homeland to return somehow to his point of departure. It focuses on the profound imprint that Mediterranean culture left upon Picasso’s work and sets up a dialogue between a selection of works from his various creative periods and examples of Spain’s rich historic and artistic heritage, of which he was a great connoisseur.

One of the aims of Picasso’s South. Andalusian References is to illustrate how the visual nature of his work bears features and qualities such as austerity and loss of faith that are akin to those in Spain’s own collective memory. These features are both tangible in the nation’s artistic heritage and present in the emotional expression of a people who have, artistically, been constructing a cultural identity over many centuries. In the specific case of Andalusia, it is clearly that of a melting-pot of three different cultures. The exhibition is part of the international Picasso-Méditerranée Project led by Musée national Picasso-Paris and is sponsored by Fundación Unicaja.