It’s cold here in the Midwest. Today the temperatures are well below freezing with even colder wind chill factors. It’s not a good day for being outside. One way we have of dealing with winter, though, is to think ahead to spring. This is the time of year when seed catalogs arrive in the mail, and we begin planning our gardens.
Powell Gardens has done the same thing, and in April a new exhibit will open. It’s called Frida Kahlo’s Garden, and although Kahlo is not one of my favorite artists, I’m excited to attend the spring exhibition and learn more about her art — and how her garden influenced her.
Here is a bit of information from Powell Gardens:
Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) is considered one of the most significant artists of the 20th century. Her body of work, consisting of some 250 paintings and drawings, is at once intensely personal and universal in scope, and relies heavily on the natural world. The exhibition transports visitors to Kahlo’s garden to experience her world as she did.
The garden at Casa Azul (Blue House), Kahlo’s lifelong home in Coyoacán, Mexico City, was a creative refuge and a source of inspiration for the artist and her husband, Diego Rivera (1886-1957). The garden, which was filled with native plants, housed Kahlo and Rivera’s collection of pre-Hispanic artifacts and folk art displayed on a four-tiered pyramid inspired by the Mesoamerican city of Teotihuacan.
Kahlo’s life was filled with traumatic events. She was ill throughout her childhood, contracting polio at the age of six. She was bedridden for nine months, and the sickness left her with a weak leg and a severe limp. Later, at the age of fifteen, she was seriously injured when a bus she was traveling on collided with a street car. A steel handrail impaled her through the hip, fracturing both her spine and pelvis. She had to wear a full body cast for several months as she healed.
During this recuperation period, Frida began painting. In addition to numerous self-portraits, Kahlo drew inspiration from her difficult life experiences, depicting both her physical and emotional pain on her canvases.
Yet along with the suffering she expressed in her art, her paintings are filled with colorful flowers, foliage, and fruits, many of which are native to Mexico.
From Powell Gardens:
Her choice of botanical imagery reflects the embrace of archetypal Mexican indigenous and natural elements that defined art in the decades following the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920). Through her profoundly personal paintings, which convey cultural, spiritual, and intimate messages, her reverence for nature, and her nationalistic fashion sense, Kahlo has become an icon within the artistic world.
The exhibit will feature photographs of the artist, her home, and her garden. Reproductions of several of her paintings will also be on display. There will be information, of course, about the native Mexican plants she grew in her garden.
Toward the end of her life, Frida was barely able to go out. At this time she completed many still life paintings using fruits and foliage from her garden. She would arrange the fruits on a bedside table and begin work.
One of her paintings I do like is Fruta de la Vida (Fruit of Life).
I love the colors of this painting. It is sad, though, to think of all the pain she surely endured as she completed this masterful work.
When Frida Kahlo’s Garden opens in April, I intend to be one of the first visitors. I am looking forward to learning more about her life and her art, and how the two are so closely intertwined.