In Frida’s Footsteps: The Legacy of a Painter’s Painter

By Hope Palmer

Nearly five decades after her death, Frida Kahlo has become a universally admired Mexican artist. In the last 15 years in particular, she has been a great posthumous ambassador of Mexican art and culture. The complexity and depth of her human and aesthetic dimensions have made her a universal symbol. For Frida, painting takes on the inevitable form of physical and allegorical liberation from sickness from corsets, from hospitals, and from numerous operations, including amputation of part of her left leg in 1953. She tries to transform pain into artistic expression, everyday suffering into creative effort, memories into love scenes, and does so by combining her remarkable formal intuition and all-pervasive lyricism with her provocative energy.

Lecture
“In Frida’s Footsteps”
By Hope Palmer
Mon, Aug 24, 5pm
Bellas Artes
Hernández Macias
100 pesos
Donation to the San Miguel International Music Festival

The aloofness of her self-portraits and the dark and disturbing content of her compositions belie Frida’s charisma and invincible good humor. Inspired by traditional Mexican religious paintings called “ex-votos,” which include brief written descriptions of depicted events, Frida recorded her life by combining text and imagery in scenes commemorating significant relationships and occasions. “I painted my own reality,” she once said, and just as ex-votos absorb and bear their donor’s emotional turmoil, Frida’s painting and writing served as cathartic agents for her loneliness and distress.

Throughout her life Frida had a fear of being forgotten. She sent letters to even the most casual friends pleading, “Don’t forget me!” and in later life freely distributed photos of herself. Her diary, begun in her late 30s, written in a highly creative and imaginative style and illustrated with drawings in different media, recorded autobiographical information and selected anecdotes, and emotional, sometimes hysterical, outpourings. Purged of her anxieties through her art, Frida faced life, and even death, bravely and confidently. Her last diary entry before her death in 1954 reads, “I happily await the end and hope never to come back.”

This lecture will present the most important images of her life’s work veering between the realism of her fantastic imagery and the intimate bond between her life and art. It will include a look at Frida’s wit, vitality, and passion for life. As Frida wrote in her final salute to life: viva la vida.

The lecture takes place Monday, August 24, at 5pm in the lecture hall in the Bellas Artes. Tickets are 100 pesos. All proceeds benefit the San Miguel International Music Festival. Tickets are available at the Festival office on the second floor of the Bellas Artes or at the door. This final lecture is part of the series entitled “Art:Works! Insights by Art Historians” which I created with Kahren Arbitman to support the San Miguel International Music Festival, which this August celebrates its 37th consecutive season.

 

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