Published  10/06/2005

Kahlo: The Enigma of Lost Times

The most bewildering aspect of this new exhibition featuring the work of Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo (1907-l954), is that of lost time. Partly, this is caused by the slowness of the cataloguing of her effects, comprising 25,000 letters and 180 dresses, and partly by a wealthy but highly possessive executor, Dolores Olmedo Patino, owner of some 25 key paintings (from a total output of some 150 paintings only), as well as the demystification of the enigma of Kahlo's relationships with Diego Rivera and with Trotsky. Fortunately, Raquel Tibol, a critical and loyal friend, is still alive. And Olmedo's son, Carlos Phillips, has remained as the Director General of both the Frida Kahlo Museum and of her archive held in her 16th century hacienda home since Olmedo herself died three years ago. This has to be seen as fortuitous, given the varying levels of continuity that have characterised the history of these collections.

The exhibition 'Frida Kahlo', sponsored by HSBC with support from the Mexican Tourist Board, started at Tate Modern on 9 June. Also currently showing is Frida Kahlo, Portraits of an Icon, at the National Portrait Gallery, London, through to 26 June.

Both exhibitions will be reviewed together in early July in Studio International.

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