by Brian O’Callaghan, MA Fine Art, CSM
Frida Kahlo with Olmec figurine, 1939. Photograph by Nickolas Muray
Frida: Inside and Outside at the Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Lecture theatre was a recent conference exploring the work and legacy of Mexican Artist Frida Kahlo (1907–1954). The event saw a host of practitioners and academics unpack how Kahlo’s art expressed a reappraisal of Mexico’s indigenous heritage, and Kahlo’s fashion as resistance, in respect of her lived experience of disability.
We know the artist as an enormous character who casts her shadow through popular culture in the same way as Che Guevara, or Warhol. From fancy dress parody to fashion shoots, commercial ’Fridamania’ can at times threaten to obscure the work of this complex and unconventional artist. The Frida we meet over this engaging 2 day conference is a multi – layered and nuanced woman. Like peeling away the over paint on an ancient fresco, the distinguished scholars and speakers unlock the doors to a new Frida, seen through the gender political mood of her era and its wider culture.