One of the most celebrated couples in Mexican art history, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera have made their debut exhibit in India with Bengaluru’s Gallery g. Kahlo is currently celebrated as a feminist and queer movement icon all across the world.
A photographic exhibition titled ‘Diego & Frida: Life Chronicles’, the exhibition showcases 60 photo reprints of the couple which have never been unveiled in India before. While these photos are all reprints, the original photographs from this collection are on permanent display at the Museo Casa Estudio Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo in Mexico. The show is a joint collaboration between the Embassy of Mexico in India and the National Institute of Fine Arts and Literature (INBAL) of Mexico along with the Museo Casa Estudio Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo.
The exhibition, hosted in Bengaluru’s gallery g is being hosted by Sandeep Kumar Maini — Honorary Consul for Mexico in Bengaluru, and Sandeep & Gitanjali Maini Foundation. The photographs have been on display since September 11 and will continue till October 10.
A celebrated art couple
Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo are one of the most celebrated couples in Mexican art history. Frida was 20 years Rivera’s junior, and the couple first met when she approached him to seek advice on her art. While Frida was celebrated for her self-portraits, Rivera helped establish the mural movement in Mexican art. Their charismatic personalities helped establish a movement which would have a definitive influence on the cultural life of 20th century Mexico. Together for almost twenty-five years (from their marriage in August 1929 until Frida’s death), their relationship was fraught with public fights, extra marital affairs, and even a divorce (only to remarry a year later), all of which played out in the public domain. Despite their messy relationship, the couple spent almost 25 years painting and influencing each other, and were together Mexico’s power artist couple of that time.
The romantic union between Kahlo and Rivera brought together intellectuals, politicians, and celebrities. Their home was a place of gatherings, deliberations and intrigue within the social and political life of Mexico. The intermittent periods during which they lived in the United States, due to the commissions Rivera received, helped to shape their views on capitalism, progress, and revolution, but it was also a breaking point in their personal relationship.
Their return to Mexico marked another turning point: the couple separated towards the end of 1939 only to marry again one year later in San Francisco. This was a time of great activity and enthusiasm: Rivera was instrumental in the Mexican government’s decision to grant León Trotsky’s final asylum. Furthermore, the time both spent with André Breton, the founder of Surrealism, resulted in the promise of an exhibition which would take Frida Kahlo to Paris in 1939. Over the years, they created a network of artists and intellectuals who would become part of the modernizing forces of the country.
This exhibition is a collection of photographs of distinguished artists who were friends and colleagues of the couple, among them, Guillermo Kahlo, Guillermo Zamora, Vicente Contreras, and Ernesto Reyes. The images depict important moments in the lives of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. They also reflect the pain and physical deterioration of Kahlo, her political activism, including the last photograph taken of her in a political demonstration, days before her death in July 1954.