Family, Rivera, mistresses and especially me. For Frida Kahlo, photography had a magical power – ČT24 – Czech Television

Frida Kahlo’s story expanded especially the biographical film with Salma Hayeková in the title role. The American director Julie Taymor introduced him to cinemas in 2002. That is, a year before access to the personal archive of the Mexican painter could be unsealed. Locked in the bathroom of La Casa Azul, or the Blue House, which Frida’s husband dedicated to Mexico and its people after her death, he remained for half a century so that Frida Kahlo’s privacy would not be immediately denied.

The personal archive included drawings, letters, a wardrobe – as well as over six thousand photographs. Two hundred and forty-one of them, depicting different periods of the painter’s life, were selected for a traveling exhibition. “It’s not an exhibition that adores Frida, as we are used to, but they are very intimate fragments of her life. A mixture of memories, “points out the director of the Gallery of the Capital City of Prague (GHMP) Magdalena Juříková.

The magical power of photography

Frida Kahlo has had a strong relationship with photography since childhood. Both father and grandfather were professionals, she herself devoted herself intensively to this medium.

“Her father came from a German-Hungarian-Jewish family and moved to Mexico as a young man. He started taking photographs, opened a studio, but that probably wouldn’t be useful, he started his career when he received a government contract to photograph cultural monuments. But then the revolution came and all these commissions ended and he found himself on the threshold of poverty, “Juříková explains the painter’s family history.

La Casa Azul, now the Frida Kahlo Museum, was threatened with execution until it was bought by Frida’s fateful man Diego Rivera.

Frida gathered a collection of daguerreotypes and postcards from the nineteenth century, pictures of family and friends, as well as portraits of herself. “She was magically focused, the photographs represented close people for her,” Juříková points out. The file also shows images in which Frida was captured by photographers such as Man Ray or Edward Weston, with whom she befriended.

She painted in pain

Frida intervened in the photographs in every way – she cut out some of them or, on the contrary, wrote them in to emphasize her personal relationship to the content. “She mostly cut herself. She was focused on her body, her visage, maybe she was not satisfied with her portrait, “says Juříková.

Frida overcame polio in her youth, and at eighteen she was seriously injured when a tram crashed into the bus she was riding. The handle, which was struck to her side by a sharp blow, “pierced her like a bull’s sword.” She suffered, among other things, fractures of the vertebrae and spine. The doctors didn’t even believe she would be saved, they left her lying on a stretcher in the hospital without doing an X-ray.

She survived – but at the cost of constant pain. She underwent a large number of operations, she had to wear a plaster corset. During her convalescence, when she spent most of her time in bed, she began painting. While browsing Frida Kahlo’s archive, it turned out that many of her works have their origins in photographs.

Not exactly a sentimental girl

She painted in the style of the original Mexican culture, which she mixed with elements of realism, symbolism and surrealism. “She created life with all that happiness, all the colors that belong to Mexico, but at the same time with the sadness and pain associated with history. She is a reflection of Mexico, “does not doubt the ambassador of this country to the Czech Republic Rosaura Leonora Rueda Gutierrezová.

The founder of surrealism, André Breton, got Frida’s paintings into the world. Unable to understand that at such a distance from Paris, anyone could paint such purely surrealistic paintings, he likened Frida to a bomb wrapped in ribbons. “A playful and bloody fantasy of not exactly a sentimental girl,” Time magazine wrote about her first solo exhibition in New York.

Painting helped Frida initially drive away boredom, a lifetime and pain. Much of her work is self-portraits. When asked why he paints so many of them, she replied: “Because I am so often alone, because I am the subject I know best.”

Elephant and dove

One of the exhibited photographs shows the imprint of Frida’s lips. She sealed Diego River’s painting record. With an artist twenty years older, she experienced a turbulent relationship, which was accompanied by quarrels and sometimes even fights. And Frida also took over Diego’s mistresses, such as the actress Dolores del Rio, who was the first Latin American star to break through in Hollywood. The pictures documented many of her loves, confirmed and alleged.

“Lesbian relationships were a very important circumstance in the fact that Frida became an icon of feminism in the 1990s and is still considered a representative of the feminist wave of fine arts,” added Juříková.

Rivery and Kahlo likened the unequal relationship to an elephant and a dove. He was a 150-pound giant, a famous artist of Mexican monumental creation, she an unknown little girl with a visible physical disability.

Under his influence, Frida began portraying indigenous women and children, and Diego also introduced Frida to the American continent’s cream of the art at the time. She moved to the United States with him in the early 1930s. However, orders from American investors ended in fiasco when Rivera painted Lenin on the wall of Rockefeller Center.

When she died, they sang to her the International

Frida shared a passion for communist ideas. It is said that a photograph of the Bolshevik revolutionary Leo Trotsky hung above the bed, among other things. “Until the assassination of him, he lived under the protection of Frida and Rivera. A love affair developed between Frida and Trotsky, “adds Juříková.

Frida remained faithful to communist ideology until her death. She painted a sickle and a hammer on the corset, which she still had to wear because of her crippled spine. And when she died in July 1954, a group of her closest friends sang Mexican folk songs to her at the last minute, as well as the International.

For Mexicans, Frida Kahlo remains, among other things, a symbol of the struggle for social ideals – justice and equality between men and women. “They teach us that any problem in life, whether physical or social, must not stop us from pursuing our dreams,” said Rosaura Ambassador Leonora Rueda Gutierrez.

The exhibition by Frida Kahlo: Photography will remain accessible at the GHMP until January next year.

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