For the first time, masterworks by two renowned and prolific early 20th century artists, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera are on exhibit together in Canada. Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting opens this weekend at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO).
“Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera were, individually, among the most fascinating artists of the 20th century. This is the first presentation of their works together in Canada, which offers a different kind of experience,” said Matthew Teitelbaum, AGO Director and CEO. “The exhibition tells a compelling and timeless story, providing insight into their tumultuous relationship, their political beliefs and their shared passion for Mexico.”
This exhibition, co-organized with the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, includes some of Kahlo’s most iconic paintings and a significant range of rivera’s work, as well as archival photographs, a film clip, and a body cast worn and painted by Kahlo.
“As one of the legendary artist couples of the 20th century, Rivera and Kahlo have each achieved major stature in the history of painting – yet the distinctiveness of their work has meant that they are rarely pared together in an exhibition,” said Dot Tuer, guest curator of the exhibition. “By bringing the work together, Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting reveals the affinities – and differences- that shaped their creative visions.”
Kahlo was often considered a surrealist however the artist insisted that she painted her reality, not her dreams. Kahlo’s work embodied very personal and intimate moments of her life. She painted to tell her life story and she was considered the essential modern day woman of her time. Although she was not a recognized artist at the same time as Rivera, she’s came into her own and some might even say she’s possibly exceeded in popularity today.
Rivera was one of the most important artists in the world during the 1920’s and 30’s. His paintings often intertwined art with politics. He was charismatic man who loved to tell stories (not letting fact getting in the way of fiction) and he was known to be very attractive to the ladies…simply because he knew how to listen to women!!!
This exhibition features 75 works by the artists, drawn primarily from the collection of Mexico’s Museo Dolores Olmedo. These works highlight Rivera and Kahlo’s lives together and apart, their politics and relationship to society and how their passionate views and activism influenced their work.
In addition to the exhibition, to honour the Day of the Dead, an interactive memorial to Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera will be installed in the form of a Mexican ofrenda – a home alter built to honour the dead with personal offerings including foods, drinks and yellow marigolds (flowers of death) , offering visitors a unique way to contemplate the artists’ lives, separately and together. On October 24, Mexican artist Carlomagno Pedro Martinez will construct an ofrenda on behalf of the AGO in the exhibition space, adding a unique and interactive element to the experience. Visitors will be given drawing tools and encouraged to personally contribute to by writing or drawing their thoughts on the works of Kahlo and Rivera. The installation will remain on display until the end of the exhibition on January 20th.
As you leave the exhibition, you will notice Judas figures created by Shadowland, a Toronto Island-based theatre company. The paper mache figures are customarily made during Mexico’s Catholic Holy Week, Semana Santa, to represent those who have betrayed us. Judas figures were famously featured in the personal home of Kahlo and Rivera.
While you’re at the AGO checking out this exhibit you may want to enjoy a meal at their famous FRANK restaurant. The menu will be featuring mexican dishes as well as a marguerita menu!
Timed-entry tickets to the AGO’s highly anticipated Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting are available now at www.ago.net . Take your time and enjoy the exhibition. Try going during off-peak hours if you can. I spent 1.5 hours in this exhibit alone and was emotional over Frida Kahlo’s very intimate paintings.
On October 28th, the AGO will host a Frida & Diego themed Family Sunday in the Weston Family Learning Centre. There will be interactive activities for kids celebrating the collective works of Frida & Diego. They will also be making objects for their ofrenda. Walker Court will be an open space for some lively salsa dancing!