Posted on | April 28, 2011 | 3 Comments
Although this superb exhibition celebrates Mexico’s most famous artist-couple, it is the iconic figure of Frida Kahlo that has been drawing the crowds to IMMA. Rivera painted murals in New York during his lifetime, but Kahlo has had a more long-term international impact. It’s not hard to see why.
His 1943 portrait of collector Natasha Gelman relies on slightly cheesy symbolism to transform the woman into a human calla lily; Kahlo’s 1943 Gelman is a real woman, her hard stare framed by a fur stole and elaborate hairdo. Rivera made Gelman into a pleasing object; Kahlo gave her an inner life. It is the same honesty she brings to her infamous self-portraits, six of which are on show, including her 1943 Self-Portrait as Tehuana/Diego on My Mind (above), and the early Self Portrait with Necklace (1933).
Photographs of Kahlo in various traditional costumes, by her one-time lover Nickolas Muray, as well as Japanese contemporary artist Yasumasa Morimura’s 2001 Kahlo-homage video, Dialogue with Myself (Encounter), all add to the myth, but her own carefully composed self-portraits are the artists’s true legacy. Kahlo was a performance artist before the term existed, and time hasn’t faded her ability to deliver a visual and emotional punch without moving a muscle.
VIDEO: You can see me talking about this exhibition on RTE Television’s The View programme, along with writer Declan Hughes and comedian Kevin Gildea here. The other items discussed are Ed O’Loughlin’s novel Toploader and the films Meek’s Cutoff and Little White Lies.
INFO: Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera – Masterpieces of the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection is at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, until 26 June 2011. Open Tues-Sat 10am-5.30pm (Wed 10.30am), Sundays and Bank Holidays 12-5.30pm. Closed Mondays. Admission €5/ €3, students/u18s free, free for all on Fridays.
EDIT 17 June 2011: In light of the comments below I thought it would be a good idea to post images of both Gelman portraits. So here they are (the show runs until 26 June 2011):