Recovering from Frida with Henry Moore

I went to an exhibition at Toronto’s AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario) in the fall of 2012 to see an exhibition of Frida Kahlo’s and Diego Rivera’s work. It was called Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics & Painting. 

It was visceral. I can’t think of another word to describe it. It reached out and floored me.

There were 80 works of art and 60 photos of them and their life. Here’s a link to the blurb.

I found myself spending the majority of my time in front of Diego’s paintings. It was a break from the shell shock,  from the impact of standing in front of one of Frida’s.

A part of you reaches out to engage with art. For me it’s not intellectual, it’s not even emotive. It is a connection at a energetic level, a communication where words and rationalizations have no place, well, for me anyway.

I staggered out of the exhibition. I wandered around the gallery in a daze, my whole balance had literally gone wobbly where I would veer off on the diagonal as I walked down corridors. I could hardly focus on the other rooms I walked through. People around me seemed like they were behind a veil, like a visual echo.

Eventually I found a collection of Henry Moore  sculptures that grabbed hold of me. They seemed to take pity and embraced me, settled me back on solid ground. I let myself follow their curves, feel the weight of them. My footing became more stable and the lightness in my head lifted.  After some time I walked out to a mezzanine with a hip little coffee shop. It had spectacular architectural wood work  reaching up into an angular ceiling and molded in front of tall glass windows. I ordered and sat down in that wood and glass tree, another one of the seemingly cosmopolitan people enjoying the gallery. But in reality I was a storm drenched raven perched on a branch sipping my espresso.

Now I look at photos of Frida Kahlo and I remember the impact those paintings had on me. It’s something different to see the actual work rather than a print. An original has been imbued by some force of the artist which makes it come to life. Not all work has that but someone like Frida who painted her inner landscape, who felt so much, it screams out of the painting like a hurricane. If you have the chance to see her original work I really recommend it but be prepared.

Oh and absolutely, if you want to feel rocked in the bosom of  mother earth go see the Henry Moore Sculpture Centre at the AGO in Toronto. Wow, wow, wow.


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