Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Colours of Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo (1907-1954)

Self Portrait as a Tehuana (Diego on my Mind), 1943
oil on masonite, 76 X 61 cm The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection of Mexican Art
(C) Banco de México Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D. F./ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Many artists use colour to paint their emotions, but few have actually defined what colour means to them. In 1944, Kahlo began to keep a journal in which she wrote her thoughts as well as poems and watercolours. She also included the symbolic meanings she attached to certain colours. These associations are anything but typical,  such as:

Geen = good warm light
Yellow = madness, sickness, fear the sun, happiness,
Navy blue = distance, tenderness
Cobalt blue = electricity and purity, love
Black = nothing is black, really nothing
Magenta = blood of the prickly pear cactus
Brown = the colour of mole and fading leaves, Earth

Kahlo was a complex and intelligent artist, and her husband Diego Rivera supported and appreciated her talent. According to guest curator Dot Tuer,  Rivera wrote to an American art critic in 1938 to recommend her, “not as a husband but as an enthusiastic admirer of her work, acid and tender, hard as steel and delicate and fine as a butterfly’s wing, loveable as a beautiful smile, and profound and cruel as the bitterness of life.”

"Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics & Painting" is now open at the Art Gallery of Ontario until January 20, 2013. The exhibition is presented in collaboration with the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia, which will display the exhibition in February 2013.

Art Gallery of Ontario
317 Dundas Street West, Toronto, Ontario
October 20, 2012 - January 20, 2013

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