Art & Exhibitions, Time to talk

Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up at the V&A Museum

Kahlo has been dubbed the original selfie queen.

quotation taken from Sponsor’s Foreword by Craig McWilliam from p9, Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up published by V&A Publishing, 2018

Frida Kahlo has always intrigued me. She is someone I had heard of but knew very little about except that she was a famous artist who created self-portraits full of colour and beauty. So when a friend offered to take me to the V&A Museum to see an exhibition celebrating this unusual artist, I jumped at the chance.

I am incredibly drawn to colour. The bolder and brighter the better and Frida Kahlo is one that seems to have embraced that within her life. I knew that she had, rather sadly, died young and I have come across some of her more famous work from time to time but otherwise my knowledge has been sketchy. This wonderful exhibition has completely changed that. It has been expertly curated, bringing together her work alongside some truly fascinating personal items of Frida’s. It really helps to bring to the life the artist behind the art. Her work was always deeply personal, an extension of her most intimate self and so it seems fitting that it should be presented to us now in such a manner.

In 1954, following her death, Frida Kahlo’s possessions were locked away in the Casa Azul (Blue House) in Mexico City, her lifelong home. Half a century later, her collection of clothing, jewellery, cosmetics and other personal items was rediscovered.

quotation taken from, Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up published by V&A Publishing, 2018

Frida Kahlo’s life was filled with pain, ill health and massive obstacles to overcome and yet she was able to fully embrace her love of life, beauty and passion.  She used art to radically change the way we see the world, examining our sense of self and the world around us.  Her self-portraits are haunting and although she painted many, each one has a different feeling, a different message to convey.

As with many of Kahlo’s art works, the power of the self-portrait lies in its sense of anguish and a tense ambiguity about who is regarding whom

quotation taken from p13, Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up published by V&A Publishing, 2018

As a child she suffered from Polio which left her disabled and then in her late teens an accident involving a tram left her bedridden for a year with injuries that would plague her for the rest of her life.  This is when she began to explore her artistic side and reinvented herself despite her disabilities.

Her imagine was completely of her own making, Frida herself becoming a work of art as well as the practical purpose of hiding her disabilities. Although battered and bruised she celebrated her body and turned it into a platform to exhibit her art, be it through the beautiful, bright clothes she chose to wear, the flowers taken from her garden and worn in her hair or the paintings she decorated her body casts with, Kahlo sought to bring beauty to everything.

The exhibition is interesting, full of information and fascinating relics. Visually stunning, at times it took my breath away with the colour, the stature, the intimacy. Her art was an expression of herself but also a way for her to explore her heritage, her gender, her political beliefs, and her broken body. There is so much to read into her work and the objects that we are now fortunate enough to see.

Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up offers a fresh perspective on the life story of this extraordinary artist, whose charisma and powerful sense of style continue to captivate. Specially commissioned photographs show her distinctive Mexican outfits along with her self-portraits, an unprecedented pairing that is enriched by iconic images of the artist.

quotation taken from, Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up published by V&A Publishing, 2018

The accompanying book, Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up is full of fascinating essays and stunning photography. If you can’t make it to the exhibition then I recommend this as a brilliant substitute. If you are lucky enough to be be able to visit then allow yourself plenty of time to immerse yourself in the exhibits. Don’t miss a thing. And do take home the book if you can. It adds another dimension to what you see within the exhibition and allows you to study it in your own time.  It not only gives greater depth to the exhibition but gives a fascinating background to the world and time that Frida lived in.

Visiting the V&A and witnessing this exhibition has allowed me to see so much more of Frida Kahlo.  I was touched by a great deal within the exhibition and the book is allowing an even greater insight.  She was incredibly talented and incredibly courageous.  Her life was short but her time still fills our world with colour, beauty and the desire to question and look within; to not only know ourselves better but to strive to be the very best, most enquiring, courageous, openminded and beautiful versions of ourselves.

The exhibition, Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up, will be running at the V&A Museum until Sunday 4th of November.  Tickets cost £15 but entry is free to members.

You can purchase a copy of the accompanying book, Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up direct from the V&A at a special exhibition price by clicking here.

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