Frida Kahlo: POSE at the Rose

I’ve made it a habit of doing two things before I travel — check for local concerts and check for local art exhibits.

Good fortune smiled on my trip to Goodwins High End, as the Rose Art Museum, part of Brandeis U, was having an exhibit of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.

Much has been said and more written about Kahlo whose works were adopted and championed by the Surrealists.

“Itzcuintli Dog with Me” oil on canvas (1938)

Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderón was born on 6 July, 1907 in Coyoacán, Mexico City, Mexico.

Frida, who suffered from polio as a child, was interested in pursuing a career in medicine but a horrific bus accident ended those plans and led to a life of great physical pain and suffering. And art.

While this wonderful show at the Rose, titled POSE, does not contain any of Kahlo’s blockbuster paintings, it was nonetheless chock full of fascinating works and photos.

Organized in five overlapping sections – posing; composing; exposing; queering, and self-fashioning – this research-based show examines the relationship between photography and art within Kahlo’s world; explores her mode of composing herself and her paintings; and shines a light on Kahlo’s queer identity and gender fluid self-presentations.

I was most interested in the drawings and prints on display as I’d never seen either from her hands.

This unassuming small work on paper held me in its stare, sending my mind off wandering through history, around the globe, and finally landing hard, back in my boots, in Waltham, MA. Mesmerized.

“Two Women” linocut illustration for Ernesto Hernández Bordes Caracol de Distancias (1925)

I bet you want to see this closer:

Untitled, lithograph (1932)

Kahlo was impaled through her pelvis by an iron handrail in that bus accident, which she described as “the way a sword pierces a bull.” Many of her works speak to her pain, physical and mental.

“Self Portrait with Diego on My Breast and Maria on My Brow” oil on Masonite (1954)

This is one her last self portraits, she did many, completed while bedridden in her final days. I almost didn’t photograph it because it clearly shows the effects of her physical decline but then I realized I was clouding my experience with expectations. Yuck. “Stanley, see this? This is this. This ain’t something else. This is this.”

Frida Kahlo: POSE at the Rose Art Museum runs through January 2, 2022.