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Frida Kahlo exhibition brings work to life

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The most famous paintings of iconic Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) are projected on enormous screens and curtains as traditional music plays as part of a digital exhibition. AFP

Frida Kahlo exhibition brings work to life

With larger-than-life projections of her work, music and journal extracts, a new exhibition aims to bring Mexican surrealist Frida Kahlo’s paintings to life to mark the 114th anniversary of her birth.

Frida. The Immersive Experience presents 26 of the most emblematic works of the late painter, known for her striking self-portraits often brimming with pain and isolation.

The idea is “to get to know Frida’s paintings, which have been around the world, but with a little bit of familiarity and intimacy”, the artist’s great-grandniece Mara de Anda said.

“I believe that Frida was very avant-garde and modern so this fits perfectly. She was a woman ahead of her time,” she said at the launch last Tuesday.

Visitors immerse themselves for about 35 minutes in the heart and mind of one of the 20th century’s most celebrated artists, who died in 1954 aged 47.

Works such as The Two Fridas and The Broken Column converge in a digital art experience fusing video, music and interactive elements inside the Fronton Mexico, an art deco building in the Mexican capital.

“This experience makes it easier for everyone to achieve that connection, and also to understand it because Frida’s paintings are special. They are not easy to understand,” said 39-year-old Diana Olguin from Colombia.

‘A different way’

The exhibition touches on the difficult times in the life of the painter, who contracted polio when she was a young child, a disease that stunted the growth of her right leg.

When she was 18, a metal tube pierced Kahlo’s abdomen during a bus crash, subjecting her to painful operations and long periods of bed rest throughout her life.

The artist, who twice married muralist Diego Rivera and was a close friend of Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky, turned to painting while convalescing, using a mirror for self-portraits.

Her works are accompanied at the exhibition by a digital app and an interactive room, as well as poems and pieces of original Mexican music.

“For many people who don’t like going to an exhibition where everything is more static, this allows you to know it in a different way,” said Frida Hentschel Romeo, another of the painter’s great-grandnieces.

“So I think the new generations are going to love it,” she said.

All visitors must wear masks, use antibacterial gel and have their temperature taken at the entrance due to the coronavirus, which has taken a devastating toll on Mexico.

“For a year and a half, we couldn’t enjoy this due to the pandemic, and now it’s an incredible opportunity to come and distract yourself for a while and see something new,” said 21-year-old university student Emiliano Diaz.

“The new generations are going to enjoy it because they will see art in a different way,” he added.

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