Hungarian National Gallery, Building C, ground floor
Probably the most defining and iconic female artist of the twentieth century, Frida Kahlo is the subject of an exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts – Hungarian National Gallery in the summer of 2018. Thanks to the kind generosity of the Museo Dolores Olmedo, Mexico City, and several other important Mexican collections, more than thirty paintings and other works by the artist are being brought on loan to Budapest. The selection – which not only features the artist’s hallmark self-portraits, but also includes such major works as her very first canvas, painted in 1927, as well as paintings and portraits inspired by the events in her life, works suffused with symbolism, drawings, and even photographs – offers a glimpse inside the evocative, yet physically and mentally tormented inner world of Frida Kahlo, and shows us the mythical reality that she experienced and recreated.
Frida Kahlo, who originally intended to study for a career in medicine, was prone to illness from her earliest childhood. At the age of six she contracted a viral infection, which malformed her right leg; as a teenager she was involved in a bus accident, receiving multiple fractures to her spine and pelvis. Her injuries caused her intolerable pain, and she was confined to her bed for long months. She found escape from her suffering in painting, and the source of her art was her own self – the window onto her particular reality was the mirror, in which she could see her reflection looking back at her. The stiff, hieratic self-portraits that Frida Kahlo painted, mostly directly facing outwards or in two-thirds profile, were projections of the artist’s inner world, which helped her to create a new, versatile and exciting ego, radiant with energy, with which to confront the outside world. Her characteristic style of painting largely followed classical precedents, but was also richly nourished by Mexican folk culture. Many of her works are enlivened by historical, archaeological and ethnographic elements of Mexico before the Spanish conquest.
Through the magnificent works on display, the Budapest exhibition conjures up the intricate and organic unity between the life and art of Frida Kahlo.