The Weaver and I attended the new Walker Art Center exhibit "Frida Kahlo" yesterday, or should I say "surrendered to?" Her art is intriguing and provocative in reproductions, and is devastating in person. The story of her tumultuous life is well known (especially since Salma Hayek's vivid film biography in 2002) so much so that I almost wish that I was seeing her work without any prior knowledge of it, and certainly without an "Audiotour" with "Multimedia" (see above.)
She has been described as a "Surrealist", but perhaps "Metarealist" would be more accurate. There are no bounds between her inner and outer "realities", both physical and psychic. All aspects of her existence- her heritage, her suffering, her politics and her environment, interplay in an organic fashion, painted with tremendous skill and sensitivity. I am not often awed by art, but this does it for me.
The Weaver commented on the rendering of textiles on the paintings, and how they contributed to the works as a whole. In The Two Fridas, she presents herself- twice- wearing both traditional garb and a Victorian lace dress. The embroidery on the hem of the dress consists of scarlet flowers alternating with bloodstains, blood from the unstoppable injury she suffered from her divorce. In some paintings her inner organs, miscarriages and bones are made manifest, forcing the viewer to confront the entire reality of her being. These are not the images you see on refrigerator magnets and commemorative postage stamps.
Great art is said to speak universal truths. Frida Kahlo spoke volumes of truth about subjects that were previously ignored in art. This show will be traveling to Philadelphia and then on to San Francisco. See it if you possibly can, there are over fifty of her works, an exibition such as this may not happen again.
UPDATE: Another view on the exhibition.