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Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera: Masterpieces from the Gelman Collection at the Pallant House Gallery
File photo of Two visitors looking at a painting by Mexican painter Frida Kahlo during the first day of an exhibition of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera from the Gelman Collection at Pera Museum in Istanbul. EPA/TOLGA BOZOGLU.
CHICHESTER.- Pallant House Gallery is presenting ‘Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera: Masterpieces from the Gelman Collection’. This major touring exhibition, which is in Chichester for its only UK showing, brings together the iconic paintings of Frida Kahlo (1907 – 1954) and Diego Rivera (1886 – 1957), the two central figures of Mexican Modernism, for the first time in this country.

Few artists have captured the public's imagination with the force of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo and her husband, the Mexican painter and muralist Diego Rivera. The myths that surrounded them in their lifetime arose not only from their significant body of work, but also from their active participation in the life of their time, their friendships (and conflicts) with leading figures, their striking physical appearance and spirited natures.

Their work speaks of a fierce loyalty to and pride in Mexico, the ideals of the 1910 revolution and a commitment to the conditions of the common man. Rivera is a socialist hero, famous for his large scale political murals depicting workers and class struggle. Kahlo is a feminist icon, whose self portraits present a challenging view of the female role and address emotional issues of love, pain and heartbreak.

The exhibition includes key images by Kahlo such as Self Portrait with Monkeys, and Self Portrait as a Tehuana or Diego in My Thoughts, and the major work by Rivera, Calla Lily Vendors (all 1943). The paintings are supplemented by a display of the rarely-seen photographs by Frida Kahlo' s father Guillermo Kahlo (1872-1941) depicting churches and cloisters around Mexico City and Tepotzlan, alongside views from the Palace in Chapultepec Park. Their inclusion allows, for the first time in this country, the work of Frida Kahlo to be placed alongside and put into context with the two most important men in her life.

The exhibition is further extended with a selection of photographs by another key artistic couple who offer a significant glimpse of Mexico's cultural history, the photographers Manuel Álvarez Bravo (1902-2002) and Lola Álvarez Bravo (1905-1993). Manuel famously photographed the Mexican Muralists, and his cinematic images of Mexico speak of the mystery of everyday life and contemporary political and social problems. Lola began taking photographs under the influence of her husband in the 1920s and worked in a number of photographic genres such as nudes, still life, landscape, photomontage and portraits. She was a close friend of Frida Kahlo, and hosted Frida's first solo exhibition in Mexico in her gallery (Galería de Arte Mexicano) in 1953.

The exhibition comes to Chichester for its only UK showing following the Pera Museum, Istanbul, and the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin.

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