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A Frida Frenzy

And then this happened.  A Frida Frenzy. 

Recently a stylish boutique gallery in Kiama thought it might be fun to get a couple of local artists to respond to the theme of Frida…suddenly a handful became a band of 60 artists, sculptors, collage & textile artists, florists and more exploding into a whirlpool of connection, fun, and creative frenzy. Suddenly everything was coming up Frida!

Of course I too got swept up in the swirl of colour, plants, creativity and had to take a closer look at Frida’s intense, sad, passionate, creative life.

Frida was one of four sisters, German photographer father and Spanish American mumma.  Born on July 6, 1907 in Coyocoan, Mexico City, Mexico. The family home was known as Casa Azul.  (Blue House how perfect)
She suffered poor health from age 6. Polio left her with a shrunken right leg, foot & an awkward limp. A bus accident in 1922 when a steel handrail impaled Frida through the hip resulted in a fractured spine and pelvis.

During her lengthy recovery she began to paint to kill the time and to distract her from pain and misery. Self portraits became her signature: “I paint myself because I am often alone and I am the subject I know best”.

Frida first met Diego in 1922, at school, but reconnected in 1928 when he was asked to evaluate her work. They married in 1929 against Frida’s mother’s wishes, and moved to USA for Diego’s art and work. San Francisco, New York, Detroit…and after some kerfuffle concerning Vladimir Lenin communist leader at the time, art and the Rockefellers, they moved back to Mexico.

Devastated and depressed after her second miscarriage in 1934, expressed all that pain in so many of her works.  Take a look at her gallery here.

A fierce and fiery marriage to Diego made an unconventional life, mostly living apart.  Diego had many affairs including one with Frida’s sister.  Diego and Frida separated and reunited many times. They actually divorced in 1939 but remarried the next year (and the marriage was no better).

Both were politically active and connected. Leon Trotsky, (exiled communist and rival of Joseph Stalin) became Frida’s lover for a short time.

From late 1930’s Frida’s art gathered popularity. She exhibited in New York. Sold paintings and got commissions. Frida befriended the likes of Andre Breton, Marc Chagall and Pablo Picasso.
Frida received a commission from the Mexican government for five portraits of important Mexican women in 1941.  She was unable to finish the project having just lost her father and suffering with her own chronic health problems.
In 1950 she was diagnosed with gangrene in her right foot and became bedridden for nearly a year with many surgeries to follow.

In 1953, she had a solo exhibition in Mexico. She arrived by ambulance, and attended the opening in a bed the gallery set up for her. A few months later, part of her right leg was amputated to stop the gangrene.

Deeply depressed, Frida however remained very politically active. Her last public appearance was at the demonstration against US backed overthrow of President Jacobo Arbenz of Guatemala..

A week after her 47th birthday, in 1954, she passed away at her beloved Blue House. She died of pulmonary embolism, but there is speculation to suggest suicide.

Her Blue House became a museum in 1958. A 2002 movie with Salma Hayek and Alfred Molina. Popular as a feminist icon, and design motif too, inspiration to many….and  then Frida came to Kiama!

Print Darling has limited but exquisite selection of Giclee prints available to order online (go to Frida gallery), from artists including August Blackman, Kathy Karas and Rhonda Murray.