Michael Hoppen Gallery is delighted to present a photographic portrait of Frida Kahlo made up of both images of the artist taken by her contemporaries and a selection of works by Ishiuchi Miyako from the series Frida.
The exhibition will take place concurrently with Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up at the Victoria and Albert Museum in which the extraordinary collection of personal artefacts and clothing belonging to the iconic Mexican artist will be on show outside Mexico for the first time. Locked away for 50 years after her death, by her husband Diego Rivera, it was this same collection of relics of Kahlo's life that the Museo Frida Kahlo invited Japanese photographer Miyako to photograph in 2013.
As a project Frida is both a departure from Ishiuchi Miyako's normal practice and a natural conceptual progression. Whilst moving away from the Japanese subject matter of her earlier series, the work reveals Miyako's continued obsession with the traces we leave behind us both as individuals and as a society. In earlier projects such as Mother's (2000-2005) and Hiroshima (2007) she photographed previously worn garments, evoking the lives and memories of the people who wore them as well as the social climate of post-war Japan. In her documentation of Frida, Miyako again respectfully sifts through the ephemera that has been left behind by an individual, and in doing so creates an intimate and revealing portrait of one of the 20th Century's most intriguing artists.
When seen alongside portraits of the artist by Lucienne Bloch, Lola Alvarez Bravo, Imogen Cunningham, Juan Guzman, Fritz Henle and Nickolas Muray, Frida's brave and troubled life story can be read through her image. The portraits represent the façade, the strength and poise of this extraordinary woman, whereas the photographs of her belongings conjure a little more of the multi-faceted life that she led. Bright blue pills, hand painted casts and stacked-heeled pink lame shoes suggest the wealth of ailments and immense pain that plagued her. However, many friends noted that the more incapacitated Kahlo became the more elaborately she dressed herself, and reviewed together the portraits and photographs of her belongings create a composite 'portrait', an insight into a woman who used fashion and art to channel her physical difficulties into a courageous statement of identity, strength and beauty.