The powerful paintings by Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) are an extraordinary combination of intense colors, psychological expression and the influence of Mexican popular culture. This year, in September, her works will be displayed at the exhibition in the ZAMEK Culture Centre in Poznań.
As a child, she contracted polio, and as a teenager, she miraculously survived a serious bus accident. The accident caused her pain for the rest of her life; she had to go through more than 30 surgeries. She studied to become a physician, but as she was immobilized in the aftermath of the accident, she began to paint, which became her greatest passion. Of her 143 paintings, 55 are self-portraits. She obsessively returned to the theme, like Cézanne to painting apples or Van Gogh to sunflowers. Her physical and psychological wounds as well as the turbulent marriage with Diego Rivera, to whom she was married twice, are distinctively reflected in her magical and colorful canvases. Just like him, she was a revolutionist, fascinated by the idea of communism. Her art is inspired by history and the spirit of the times, during which cultural and social transformation led to the Mexican Revolution.
The completely independent and autonomous language of artistic expression made her the icon of 20th-century painting. This, however, didn’t happen until the 1980s. All her life, she was overshadowed by her successful husband, she had few exhibitions, and didn’t sell her works. Andrew Breton and the surrealists saw a kindred spirit in her. Frida Kahlo denied it, saying she was only painting the reality around her. Pablo Picasso and Wassily Kandinsky also admired her paintings.
I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best.
Today, the artist is valued for many reasons. In Mexico, she is considered to be the national treasure and loved for the distinctive influences of folk art. The feminist movement sees in her strength and independence, above all, and also an unprecedented way of depicting her femininity – Frida never let her difficult, wounded corporeality limit her. She successfully transformed traumatic experiences into an authentic, captivating language of expression.
In September, the paintings of this brilliant artists will be exhibited in the ZAMEK Culture Centre in Poznań. The exhibition “Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. The Polish context” will be held from 28 September 2017 until 21 January 2018. It will be Poland’s first and only exhibition devoted to Kahlo and Rivera, additionally enriched with the less famous, yet highly compelling Polish context.
This is how Anna Hryniewiecka, director of the ZAMEK Culture Centre in Poznań, describes the upcoming event: “Frida Kahlo will be the heroine of the exhibition, but we will also show paintings and drawings by Diego Rivera, photographs by Bernice Kolko, paintings and graphics by Fanny Rabel, as well as contemporary Mexican art from private collections and the National Museum in Warsaw. The exhibition curator is the greatest expert in Frida Kahlo’s art – Dr. Helga Prignitz-Poda.
The visitors will be able to see around 40 works created by Kahlo and Rivera, as well as famous photographic depictions of the artist by Nickolas Muray, photographs of the artists and her surroundings taken by Frida’s friend Bernice Kolko, and paintings by her student
– Fanny Rabel. What is interesting, both these women were born in Poland, so the exhibition will feature a great deal of Polish accent. Frida Kahlo was an unusual and original person that kept both her feet firmly on the ground. She was also a very bold woman who wasn’t afraid of challenges and difficult decisions. There is a reason why she became the proud icon of Mexico.”
I want people looking at my paintings to feel my pain.