“Plants and flowers appeared throughout Frida Kahlo’s paintings, and although interpreting her art regularly evokes her biography of illness, injury, pain, and tumultuous love, the first exhibition to examine her work from a botanical perspective opens this week at a garden. Constructing a tribute to the flora of her Casa Azul home in Coyoacán south of Mexico City, which she shared off and on with muralist Diego Rivera, the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) in the Bronx pairs this assembly of cacti, succulents, perennials, and other leafy specimens from her garden with a small exhibition of 14 drawings and paintings.” …
“It’s not meant to be an exact replica, more an evocation of the feeling of stepping back in time, when from the 1930s to her death in 1954 the garden was a source of comfort and inspiration, especially as her health declined and she spent more time at home. In one corner of the conservatory, a studio space similar to Kahlo’s is set up with palette, pigments, and brushes beneath the shade of large-leafed plants. Curator Adriana Zavala and scenic designer Scott Pask have spent time with each detail, from the layered subtleties of the plant selections that go from desert to tropical, including plants native to Mexico and those she collected from abroad, to the careful matching of colors to Kahlo’s home. …
The exhibition of her art in the LuEsther T. Mertz Library’s Art Gallery, Kahlo’s first solo show in New York City in over a decade according to NYBG, is a small gathering of paintings and works on paper that demonstrate the symbolism and use of plants in her art. In the “Portrait of Luther Burbank” (1931), the famed botanist sprouts like a tree, with roots feeding on a corpse, illustrating how all flora and fauna is part of this cycle of life and death that nurtures new growth. Her beautiful “Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird” (1940) gazes from another wall, where a black cat and monkey creep from huge foliage and a zinnia and fuschia flower add a surreal touch as they turn into insects. A necklace of thorns adorned with a dead hummingbird draws blood from her neck, all suggesting the imminent consumption of her body by nature.
Portrait of Luther Burbank
Still Life with Parrot and Fruit
Two Nudes in A Forest
Humberto Spindola’s Two Fridas