Finally meeting Frida: Kahlo & Rivera Exhibition at AGNSW 2016

Throughout my life of creative studies and artistic endeavors, no one has ever inspired me more than the revolutionary female artist, Frida Kahlo.

Ever since I was introduced to her work in year seven art class, I’ve been obsessed not only with her deeply emotional yet rich, cultural depictions of her physical and emotional pain, but also with her overall sense of style and close connection to her vibrant Mexican culture.

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Aesthetically and artistically, Frida reached me on a personal level right from the start. She was incredibly talented, fabulously rebellious, and unapologetically herself in both her art practice and her personal life. She refused to be held back by her disability, political belief, religion, or society’s perception of gender.

Frida was the Beyonce of the early 1900s and I have been fangirling over her since my very first art class.

On Wednesday the 13th of July, I finally got to meet Frida in person. I saw her work with a friend at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and it was so exciting that it didn’t even seem real.

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Up close, the paintings were everything I imagined they’d be. To quote the tipsy commentary of my friend and I while strolling through the exhibition, “they’re like, incredibly detailed… but in a not way”.

The brush work was minute yet noticeable, just the way you’d expect in a painting forged from expressionism. Every brushstroke worked together to create rich, colourful portraits and abstract settings that could only really exist in your dizziest daydreams.

In terms of volume of works in the exhibition, though, I have to say that I was a little disappointed. There were thirty-three excellent examples of Frida and Diego’s work including  Self-portrait with monkeys and Self-portrait with necklace but there were a few key pieces missing from the picture including The Two Fridas, Broken Column, and What the Water Gave Me (which is now the name of a song by Flornce + the Machine, by the way).

There also seemed to be an alarmingly lopsided ratio between actual paintings and photographs of the famous couple together paired with famous quotes about Frida and excerpts taken from her diary. Not to say that these elements weren’t good but more work from the artists would have been incredible.

While there were a few missing pieces, overall I was overwhelmingly grateful to have been able to have seen Frida’s work in person. I never thought that I’d get to see her portraits in my lifetime and that I’d always see them from behind a computer/phone screen but I feel lucky to have been able to attend an exhibition dedicated to Frida.

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