Paintings by Frida Kahlo are on show at the museum of the globe`s main surrealist
Frida Kahlo had never rated herself among surrealist artists though her oeuvre was certainly dreamlike. This very idea is highlighted by the sponsors of the exhibition Frida Kahlo at the Dali
at the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida
. More than 60 art pieces by the Mexican artist are on display including 15 paintings,
seven drawing and numerous personal photographs. According to curators' assessments the showcase includes about the fifth part of her artworks.
Frida Kahlo as well as Salvador Dali created an icon of her own face. The distinctive mark of Dali became his mustache, and Frida’s insignia became her unibrow. We still do not know what is more recognizable.
Frida looks into viewers`eyes from each of her paintings. She accompanied her own images with the symbols borrowed from the Catholic iconography, Mexican legends and her personal life. Much like Dali, her artworks were the diaries on the canvases, more dreamlike than real events.
The exhibition Frida Kahlo at the Dali is an intriguing exploration of the artist’s life, her striking artworks and her fascinating psyche. The exhibit opens with her early artworks painted by the girl bound to the bed after the accident and it is finished with the art pieces created shortly before her death at the age of 47. The photos from her family album are demonstrated at the exhibition. In one of the pictures we can see young Frida dressed in a man’s suit with her parents, brothers and sisters. In 1920s — 1930s such behavior was shocking.
To leftwards: grand portrait of Kahlo’s family dated 1927; Frida is next to her father with her arm on his shoulder.
While recovering after the accident, Frida Kahlo painted the portrait of Alicia Galant, her friend and neighbor. The artwork seemed to be liked by the author, and she decided to show herself to be an artist writing on the reverse side: "My first piece of art. Frida Kahlo, 1927".
One of her early pieces of art at the exhibition demonstrates the price she had to pay for her creative work. Henry Ford Hospital by Frida Kahlo (1932) depicts her lying on her back in a hospital bed after a miscarriage, the second but not the last one. The figure in the painting is nude, the sheets behind her are bloody. Six blood red filaments tied her body with six scaring images. One of them is a snail symbolizing the endless time, the other is a mysterious apparatus implying weakness of medical technologies, a faded orchid depicting Diego Rivera’s, her husband’s present, which lost its beauty. The broken pelvic bones, dead fetus and empty uterus speak for themselves.
Fighting with the pain Kahlo considered the whole cycle of life. The Portrait of Luther Burbank (1932) depicts a famous horticulturist as a hybrid with half as man and the other half as tree growing out of the copse.
Discoveries of this scientist saved a lot of people from starvation. Frida understood the importance of his achievements in selection, and at the same time she denied his ideas of cultivating people like plants. A philodendron in the picture with its two leaves of different colors evidences Kahlo’s mixed feelings to this man. We could suggest that in this way the artist demonstrates her attitude to Burbank’s experiments.
Moreover, she hints with irony that finally each human being inevitably becomes food for plants, all of us.
To leftwards: Frida Kahlo, The Portrait of Luther Burbank (1932)
The both paintings are clearly surrealistic and distortion of time, contortion of space and irrationality are obvious in the early artworks by Frida. In 1938 André Breton, the founder of Surrealism, visited Rivera and Kahlo. He was impressed by the artist’s oeuvre, and he acclaimed her as a surrealistic artist. Finally, Frida left to Paris, but she did not join and preferred her path in the art.
She denied that she was a surrealist artist, said William Jeffet, one of the exhibition curators, she said,"I just paint what I feel". At the same time this is the most accurate definition of Surrealism. It is difficult to say what belongs to Surrealism, and what does not belong to it, it is not a style.
The other significant self portrait is demonstrated at the exhibition Frida Kahlo at the Dali, it is the Broken Column (1944). The artist depicted herself against the earth with dark ravines. Her face expressed stoicism, her body was cut and tied up with bands like anatomic mannikin without blood and internals. A broken column was put in place of her spine. The column appeared to be on the verge of collapsing into rubble. The nails were stuck into her face and whole body symbolizing pain and at the same time resembling Saint Sebastian in the religious iconography.
Comparing to the above, Self Portrait with Monkey (1945) seems to be simple and calm. However, it is a mistake. A hairless dog in front of Frida symbolizes Xolotl, the god with associations to both lightning and death leading the soul on its journey to the underworld. A band winding round the artist and other figures implies her link with life and traditions. The only nail behind her is the other reference to Saint Sebastian.
According to curator William Jeffet, Frida Kahlo painted A Few Small Nips! in 1935 impressed by the broadcast about domestic abuse.
The oeuvre by Frida Kahlo is based on pain, eroticism, aggressive sexuality, death and procreation. These five obsessions could be traced in the artworks of surrealistic artists, and most of all they are typical for Salvador Dali. The exhibition Frida Kahlo at the Dali at the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, will work till April 17, 2017.
Adapted from the official web site of the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, bradenton.com and heraldtribune.com