Mexican painter Frida Kahlo was born in 1907, just three years before the revolution that would give birth to democracy in her home country. While the world has become familiar with Kahlo and her work in the decades since her 1954 death – thanks to movies, books and exhibits focused on her and her art – her marriage to and relationship with fellow Mexican artist Diego Rivera is less known. Through the exhibit Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting, the Art Gallery of Ontario hopes to change that.
During Kahlo and Rivera’s lifetime, the latter was the more renowned figure in Mexican cultural circles. Kahlo herself was a fan of Rivera’s work, and it was through her quest to seek advice from Rivera that a relationship blossomed between the two painters.
Like the political situation at the time in Mexico, Frida and Diego’s time together was volatile and unpredictable. The active communists took Leon Trotsky into their home when the Russian revolutionary sought asylum in Mexico, and he and Kahlo were rumoured to have had an affair. Both Frida and Diego had quick tempers and fought often. They divorced in 1939, but remarried a year later. Despite their struggles as a couple, their love for each other led Diego and Frida to feature one another in their work several times.
Through not only paintings (mostly Kahlo’s, since Diego was primarily a mural painter), but also photos, home movies and lectures, the Art Gallery of Ontario offers visitors a glimpse at the couple’s relationship, their passion for Mexico’s revolution and the internal and external influences that drove both of them as artists.
Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting runs until January 20, 2013.