Was very happy to finally get out to see the Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) yesterday with my pal Kira Callahan. It was a beautiful fall Sunday afternoon and as the bold autumn colours waned outdoors, equally bold and vibrant strokes of colour greeted us indoors at the AGO.
This is an exhibit you need to experience in person, but I’ll include some impressions of what I saw. I’ll admit that Kahlo’s work was the main attraction for me. I was familiar with some of Rivera’s work – mostly the political murals, and scenes of everyday life and people in Mexico – but I was happily surprised to see some radiant, vibrating surrealist pieces and landscapes. Also included in the exhibit are photographs, a film and a Day of the Dead ofrenda in Kahlo and Rivera’s honour.
Kahlo painted the landscape of her soul and leaves it all on the canvas – passion, the pain, her love of Mexico and its indigenous art. The canvasses depicting her physical and emotional turmoil are visceral, haunting, heart- and gut-wrenching. Beautiful and terrible at the same time. As Kira and I wandered through the exhibit, we chatted about the work, the artists and the film Frida – where director Julie Taymor so brilliantly used Kahlo’s paintings and palette, making the work come to life, and where Salma Hayek so fully inhabited the character of this beautiful and remarkable woman and artist.
As passionate as the work is, the relationship between Kahlo and Rivera appears to have been equally – if not more – so. These were two artists who not only lived and breathed their work – but each other as well.
Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting is on at the AGO until January 20, 2013.