Is 2023 the year we show Frida the respect she deserves? Life and Work of Frida Kahlo, Coventry
I’ve been a lover of Frida Kahlo’s art ever since I stumbled across it in the pages of a primary school art book. My love for this extraordinary artist has only grown as each year has passed. I felt truly touched when, as a teenager, I was able to take myself to an exhibition of Frida’s work displayed beside that of her beloved Diego Rivera in the modest Pallant House Gallery, Chichester. This Chichester show was intimate, and it was in the days before Frida had become a real icon in the UK, so the gallery rooms were blissfully quiet.
It was in 2018, by which time Frida had become something of a pop icon, that the V&A put on a sizable exhibition around Frida’s life. I managed to get hold of one of the much coveted tickets, and again, went on a solo adventure to London to see what treasures there were to be seen. I was bitterly disappointed with the whole exhibition.
One of the first things I saw within the exhibition was a note explaining that many of the items on display had been locked away by Frida. She had given strict instruction that these were personal items that weren’t for public consumption. And yet, here they were. I felt ashamed and sad for Frida – the whole affair felt exploitative. I wrote about my thoughts in more depth here, and I also write a lengthy email to the V&A outlining my concerns. Of course, I never heard anything back.
Since this disappointing exhibition, I’ve avoided anything branded with Frida’s face. I feel like her likeness has become a real money maker in our capitalist world, and I don’t think Frida would have approved. She was about passion and art, not making money from mass produced plant pots with her face crudely slapped on them.
Fast forward to last month, and I happened upon the details of a Frida event. I took a closer look and decided to give it a go. The event is called Life and Work of Frida Kahlo and promises a multi-sensory experience showcasing various aspects of Frida. The event is a light and projection show where huge pictures are projected onto blank walls. As far as I can tell, it’s a celebration of art and knowledge that’s already very well known and it’s not going to feel like anyone is trying to air Frida’s dirty laundry.
I’m excited to see what the Life and Work of Frida Kahlo will be like, and I’m hopeful that it’ll be a pleasant experience that really showcases the true excellence of Frida.