The Diary of Frida Kahlo; On the Urgency of Beauty

05 | 08 | 2022

An exhibition begins with one of Frida Kahlo’s most intimate and powerful works: her personal diary.

Frida Kahlo wrote a diary during the final decade of her life. Reflections, reveries, and tracings, it’s a window into the personal cosmovision that gave shape to one of her most intimate and powerful creative works. Difficult to catalog for its multi-dimensional nature, Kahlo’s Diary transcends artistic disciplines to become a vehicle for self-knowledge. That’s to say, it’s a work not only of incalculable pictorial and literary value, but also one outlining a path toward personal transformation.

For decades, the diary has remained within the confines of a deep and suggestive volume, editions of which have been published by La Vaca Independiente since 1992. For the first time, its pages have been opened to manifest itself anew in a museum space.

On the Urgency of Beauty

The exhibition, made possible thanks to the support of EFIARTES, will be open through October 15, 2022, at the Museo de Arte Moderno in Mexico City. Pages of the diary are displayed in large format, but the exhibition also allows visitors to witness the exploration, re-readings, and re-signification of the document by three Mexican artists: Tania Candiani, Lorena Mal, and Lucía Hinojosa, who created commissioned works for this exhibition.

Combining the diary with a contemporary reading proposed by the invited artists expands its symbolic elements and the power of its construction of meaning. Works begin with the diary as a starting point for reflecting on links with nature, the recovery of the Mesoamerican past, sisterly relationships, and the vindication of other paradigms of knowledge.

On the Urgency of Beauty presents the diary as a work of art, fully intending that the museum keep the book and provide it with an international, itinerant agenda, and such that a public program of workshops, talks, and seminars inspired by the diary may emerge. The idea is for the exhibition to revitalize a polysemic dialogue permeated by Kahlo’s vision. It’s a vision that has nourished the Mexican creative and social scene for decades and that has been key to the construction of the country’s own identity.

The Work

Only a mountain knows the entrails of another mountain – Tania Candiani

Candiani’s research process is seeking a course through the practices of women who worked at the horizon of modernity and who share creative thinking, practices, and ideologies challenging during their own times. The resulting work presents a series of skirts and petticoats, each representing one of these women, and a two-channel video collection in which a fictional dialogue is generated between them all. 

Life, Dead Still (Naturaleza bien muerta) – Lorena Mal

Mal’s work is a series of immobile sculptures/gestures in dialogue with one another, making the still in still life that much more apparent. Based on archival research from Kahlo’s diary, Mal converses through writing-drawing-painting to give voice and volume to gestures through multiple Mesoamerican instruments. Their shapes and sounds define a space linking the cultural, visual, and historical with languages and perspectives covering life, body and nature, all parts of Mal’s artistic practice. 

Ojosauros – Lucía Hinojosa

Ojosauros approaches Kahlo as a writer. An intimate take on her voice through an act of reverse reading, Hinojosa reads us, in the present, as vectors and axes in dialogue with Kahlo’s cosmogony, and with the sense of reality she established in the Mexican imagination. At the same time, Hinojosa reverses and cancels clichés and notions of Kahlo as an immovable identity. Ojosauros presents new identities of a Kahlo now reading us, through resonant voices that touch, change, and move unpredictable futures.

La Vaca Independiente

For 30 years, La Vaca Independiente has provided a subtle and gradual revelation through the Diary of Frida Kahlo. The Diary is not merely a work of art in and of itself. It’s a vehicle for self-knowledge revealing art’s power on the path toward creation and personal transformation

 Kahlo’s legacy is drawn to open conversations on contemporary issues relating to human development, providing distance from the commonplace with which Kahlo is often identified. We generate links with organizations to contribute to the generation of learning experiences based on the Diary of Frida Kahlo as a work of visual and literary art.

La Vaca Independiente has edited and published multiple editions of Frida Kahlo’s Diary (which you can find here). The vision of introspection and creative expression is shared for the continued wellbeing of individuals, collectives, and organizations.

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