ART REVIEW - Frida Kahlo exhibition - “Making herself up”

Frida Kahlo is arguably one of the most famous Mexican artists, known not only for her depictions of traditional Mexican culture within her art, but also her revolutionary feminist behaviour during the twentieth-century.

Kahlo was born in a small village, Coyoacán, just outside Mexico City, in July 1907. She grew up with her three sisters, her German father and Mexican mother. At the age of eighteen, Frida was severely injured in a road accident, where her bus collided with a car. An iron-handrail pierced her pelvis and she spent the duration of her life, suffering the pain and illnesses that followed. The accident left her bed-bound, where she began to paint and experiment with art.

The V&A museum in Knightsbridge, London, is the first place outside of Mexico where they held exhibitions from Frida Kahlo’s home. Locked away for fifty years after her death, Casa Azul has been opened, and her possessions have been discovered. The exhibition exposes the intimate details of her life, and makes her audiences feel as though they have been transported back to Mexico in the 1950s. The exhibition takes you through here personal struggles and relationships, not only depicting her as an artist but also as a revolutionary and as a feminist.

Through various forms, she paints the casts, corsets, and prosthetic limbs, which she was forced to wear after the accident. The lighting throughout the exhibition is kept quite dark, attracting people towards the bright colours of her traditional Mexican dresses, and overall shade schemes of her artwork.

One of the reasons Kahlo is seen as an iconic feminist of the twentieth-century, is her authentic and raw portrayal of womanhood. Many of her paintings reflect the hardships she faced throughout her lifetime, and through her choice of art, she brought light to important topics that are shared by women across the world. These issues explored in her work (and were prominent throughout the exhibition) included many taboo subjects of the time, such as: miscarriage, breastfeeding, birth, and abortion.

Kahlo was unable to conceive after her accident in 1925, and it has remained a topic she often revisited in multiple interviews and paintings. She states that her paintings “are the frankest expression of [her]self”. Kahlo not only broke boundaries in the artistic world, but also created ideas of what it meant to be a woman. She wholly embraced herself and refused to shave her mono-brow and moustache, both features which were deemed as ‘un-feminine’.

The exhibition will continue until the 18th November, and more information can be found on the V&A website.