Coffee with a Creative
“Els Quatre Gats is closed today” said the artist with a nonchalant grin. We stood in the entrance and he suggested “Lets go somewhere else.”
In Barcelona the tourists gather and rush to see the great works and influences of Gaudi. The first artist we think about when visiting this amazing city. There are enough fridge magnets on sale here to mosaic a wall in broken tiles using every colour. I was here a few years ago to breathe in deeply, the creative ambiance of Barcelona. Do not mis-judge me, Gaudi makes me smile. He has a great back story, if not a tragic one. He leaves behind unfinished business. A true creative, but one I can relate to. Remembering that trip to Barcelona with great fondness, I learned to embrace Gaudi and be inspired, all whilst working alongside a South American graffiti artist. Everything just merged together nicely. Art can be like that, no right or wrong, just go where the colour takes you and leave your opinion undiscussed and left to be pulled apart in every direction by others. I remain centred and breathe a sigh.
Nothing has changed as I return to Barcelona for a few days, a flying visit with no time to do it all and see everything. I am happy to just wander and have my eyes open to all that I can see and find beautiful. Walking up the small side street on the Ramblers, my friend remarks that this is where the bar/restaurant Els Quatre Gats (The Four Cats) is situated. It was open and inviting but sadly we did not have time to go in. This is where Picasso hung out with his artist friends and held his first exhibition in 1900. I need to come back here I told her. I need to come back here with Picasso. In his own words he quotes, “Everything you can imagine is real.” So imagining is on my agenda.
My last day in Barcelona and I am determined to meet up with him. I find myself trekking to Els Quatre Gats, hoping for a chance to soak up the energy and ambiance of a time gone by. I want to finish this article with a flutter of authenticity. I have many questions, which I know will come up randomly.
I wonder if he will come alone or with a group of friends? Will he talk to me or ignore me? I imagine him waiting outside wearing a brown coat and sweater, his hair slicked to one side his hands rubbing together impatiently.
This was the art cafe that somehow attracted the Bohemiam, avante-garde artists of that time so I am sure he will let me in. The owners wanted the cafe to be known not only for good food and drink but for serving food of the spirit. Undoubtedly this would offer a surroundings suitable for creative minds to engage in creative communication and discuss the topics of the day. A good art cafe will always take that into consideration.
My little dream world is knocked back into present day. There is a group of tourists and a guide clogging up the entrance and it is shut. In my eagerness I did arrive early so I found an art shop to wander around instead, killing some time. Walking back half an hour later there was a queue of more tourists armed with cameras and listening to the guide. I sense this is part of a must see list and unfortunately, I am assuming that most of the tourists would have little interest in art. I guess my hope of soaking up the nostalgia whilst having lunch there was going to be an impossible task. I kicked myself for being stupid.
In the corner of my eye I saw him, watching the scene intently as he leans up against the red brick wall of the building.
“Els Quatre Gats is closed today” said the artist with a nonchalant grin. “Lets go somewhere else” I followed him to a much quieter establishment and we ordered coffee. He sat opposite with his legs crossed and his arms folded and falling limp over one knee. “I am sorry about the tourists” I said “You are famous in Barcelona” He did not seem surprised.
“The world has gone crazy and it is about to get crazier. Like your paintings” I remarked.
“The world doesn't make sense, so why should I paint pictures that do?” Picasso.
I nodded in agreement, but perhaps they make sense more than we realise. It is 1900 and you wont believe what is coming. We need more artists like you to make sense of it all. Me
“What do you think an artist is? ...he is a political being, constantly aware of the heart breaking, passionate, or delightful things that happen in the world, shaping himself completely in their image. Painting is not done to decorate apartments. It is an instrument of war.” Picasso.
‘Yes I get that . Do we not use creativity and art to break tradition? People struggle with change and continuously battle to understand it. In my time it is still happening but people like you have courage to see truth alive within progress.” Me
Well! “We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth at least the truth that is given us to understand. The artist must know the manner whereby to convince others of the truthfulness of his lies.” Picasso.
If only we could see more truth, between the lines of words and in the shadows of shapes and images. We see what we want to see…..That takes me back to imagination. Me
“The chief enemy of creativity is good sense.” Picasso.
“The world is short on good sense” Me
‘It is kind of nice that way………..More coffee? ”Me
I am drawn towards the modernists of that time . Europe was soon to face a turbulent period and the underlying rumble of revolution was about to filter through society and demand change, Daring to be different in their world was dangerous thought the conformists, however, this attitude was about to paint a path across the art world and it didnt stop until around sixty years later, when different became the new normal. Picasso hung out in Barcelona between 1895 until 1904. Here he was caught up in progressive ideas within the art world as Barcelona went through this period of growth. Their wooden tables where they sat around discussing the sense of the world is now full with tourists. No worries. I can always come back another time.
Until we meet again. True creatives never die.