Arts & Entertainment

Frida Kahlo’s color, versatility, vitality come together in ode to Mexico

By Bruno Fortea Miras

Brussels, Oct 15 (EFE).- The cheerful colors, the versatility of paper as an artistic material and the vitality that surrounds the work of Frida Kahlo are intertwined in Brussels to give rise to an exhibition that recreates the intimate universe the painter had in her home.

“It is a world of magical paper that shows the cultural wealth of a country like Mexico, the wealth of textiles, the wealth of animals, fruits, vegetables, light,” Silva Reyes, curator of the exhibition that will be open until February 2023 at the Museum of Fine Arts in the Belgian capital.

Mexican dresses, dogs, birds, typical fruits, offerings to the deceased… All the objects in the exhibition, called “Miradas de Mujeres,” are made from more than four kilometers of paper and cardboard at the hands of the Brussels artist Isabelle de Borchgrave, admirer and student of the figure of Kahlo.

“I think that if Isabelle and Frida had ever met, without a doubt, they would have been great friends, because they have a passion for color, for paper, for the traditional, for the authentic. That desire to share with people around a table. The love for plants, for flowers, for animals, etc,” the curator said.

The works of Isabelle de Borchgrave and Frida Kahlo meet in an exhibition that, in the opinion of curator Reyes, emulates with “respect” and “fidelity” the atmosphere of Kahlo’s studio and residence in the Casa Azul in Mexico City. It praises the technique creativity that De Borchgrave uses with the paper and acrylic paint with which he colors his confections.

“Isabelle’s work is, without a doubt, unique in the world. There are many other artists who have made paper accessories, cups or doilies. But there is no one, as far as I know, who reproduces or does something similar to what Isabel does,” he said.

Made into a world icon and, also, a commercial claim, the figure of Kahlo has become an emblem of feminism and the pain she went through for much of her life, marked by the polio she suffered from childhood and the traffic accident that caused her spinal injuries as a young woman.

Reyes attributes all this to the “super-exploitation” of Kahlo’s image today, and to the fact that, in her opinion, there has been “a little morbidity” for wanting to associate her life with suffering. It’s the opposite of what she intends to do with this exhibition in Brussels, which sees the light after several years of work, and which vindicates the spirited nature of the artist and her work.

“Frida was, despite everything she suffered, a joyful and happy woman. Every day Frida dressed, put on makeup and combed her hair as if it were for a party. She never stopped being a feminine woman above all, although people know her as the liberal woman, the woman who suffered alongside Diego Rivera or the woman who couldn’t have children and who, nevertheless, kept going,” the expert said about Kahlo.

Reyes said the Mexican artist’s daily life was an “invitation” to flee from pain, since that was something that “she brought internally not only in her heart, but in her body,” and for this reason she said Kahlo attached great importance to aesthetics and clothing.

“Because she looked in the mirror and saw beauty externally, while inside she suffered,” she said.

Reyes said it is still possible to “redefine” the image of the painter, through a process in which exhibitions such as the one she supervises in Brussels will be essential, and which she hopes to be able to transfer to other countries, such as Spain, to bring everyone closer to world the vitalism of Kahlo and the color of Mexico. EFE


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