Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera AGNSW Exhibition – Review

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So last weekend I went along to the Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera Exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Why did I wait until the last few weeks long to go? It’s a long story actually. I heard about this event coming to Sydney in late 2015 and at the time I was so excited I was counting down the days. So when the event finally rolled around, I decided to wait until at least the second week to avoid the crush. Then what happened?… on the first week of August, I fell and stuffed my ankle for a few weeks, got very distracted and then all of a sudden, the exhibition was almost at an end. Sigh.

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At $18 per adult ticket, entry into the exhibition is staggered every 30 minutes and the reason for this is pretty obvious. It was much busier than I expected as we all crammed into the small space. I really enjoy going to museums and art galleries, but I personally struggle with the anxiety of having my personal space invaded… It can’t be just me that feels this? Anyway, personal space issues aside, here are my thoughts on the exhibition.

There was absolutely no confusing Frida and Diego’s work with any others, nor should there. Large printed photos on the walls of Frida and Diego created a really warm feeling in the space and made it feel like home. Although there were only 33 paintings and 50 plus photos on display in a relatively small space, it’s the detail in the masterpieces that has people captivated.

I love how this exhibition was curated. Coloured walls throughout the space reflected Frida’s colourful style whilst also highlighting and complementing some of the most important works.

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‘Landscape with Cacti’ by Diego. This is a large and very attractive piece representing colourful cacti in the dessert. This caricature landscape seems different to Diego’s usual style featuring vast spaces with lots of people and often represent a reflection of society.

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Personal letters are on display with interactive tablets displaying Spanish to English translations of handwritten letters. An true insight into their life.

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In contrast to Diego’s pieces, Frida’s works are small, humble and mainly self potraits of the subject she knows the best, herself.

I enjoyed people watching and see others observe the works. I love seeing the excitement in their faces. I love how engrossed people become observing a story. I love seeing people examine every brush stroke and of course, fighting every urge to stroke the delicate paintings.

I enjoyed people watching and see others observe the works. I love seeing the excitement in their faces. I love how engrossed people become observing a story. I love seeing people examine every brush stroke and of course, fighting every urge to stroke the delicate paintings.

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Family album style photographs adorned almost every blank space and invited people to come close and experience their life.

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There’s something so personal about seeing these hand-drawn etchings by Frida. After walking through and observing the photographs timeline, it felt like I had experienced a glimpse of Frida and Diego’s journey through life. It was actually very confronting and emotional to see the final photos of Frida resting in peace.

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The Love Embrace of the Universe,the Earth,Myself,Diego and Senor Xolotl (centred). This is probably one of the most favourite paintings I’ve experienced in the flesh. It’s truly iridescent and seems like no photograph can portray the illuminating contrast between the deep blue and the mint-green colours of the right-hand side of the painting.

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Coloured photos of Frida. 

frida-kahlo-exhibition-11‘Self Portrait as a Tehuana’. Dressed in traditional Tehuana dress, Frida started painting it in 1940 after Diego and her divorce and completed it in 1943. Diego was still clearly on her mind.

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Self-portrait with Monkey. This is probably my favourite piece. I love how the choice of a bold red gallery wall helps lift the piece. Frida depicted monkeys in a huge amount of her paintings and some say these represented the children she was unable to have with Diego.

During their careers, Diego’s career seemed to elevate above Frida’s, however, it’s clear that Frida draws the masses. Frida as an artist, her story and of course her art, is what captivates people to this day and probably will continue to do so for years to come. The lives and stories of Frida and Diego are so entwined and they will always be two parts of a whole.

Don’t miss the Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera Exhibition – with only one day to go, I urge you to go and experience the masterpieces if you can.

Love,
Festival Girl

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