Sunday, September 18, 2005

stunning art

Frida Kahlo was mind-boggling - there were so many pictures and so much information about them - almost too much to take in and I am knackered. I had no trouble relating to the pictures - they were so vibrant. Some were very small and it was very busy so getting close enough was difficult sometimes.

She painted a lot of still lives and portraits of other people - one in particular that interested me was of a horticulturalist like a tree growing out of a decaying corpse. The many themes expressing duality were expressed in most of her paintings - life and death, dark and light, sun and moon. Fertility was significant for her too and paintings explicity depicting her miscarriage are moving in their honesty.

There were many books and postcards on offer in the Tate Modern shop - some were of incredibly beautiful photographic portraits of Frida brilliantly executed. Self-portraits in paint and photos by others were very important to Frida. I talked a lot with the friend I went with about identity and how we present ourselves to the world compared to how we wish to be seen and how others see us.
After visting the Kahlo exhibition we went to see the wonderful sculpture of Alison Lapper pregnant, on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square. It was stunning and contrasted wonderfully well with the phallic Nelson's Column. The three "great men" would be nothing without their mothers after all.

Alison has written an autobiography part of which was in the Observer a few weeks ago - it is very disturbing. I also find it distrubing that Alison struggles to sell her own work as an artist - she was interviewed on TV in relation to the fourth plinth statue. Marc Quinn who designed the sculpture is famous and earning large amounts from his art - which includes Alison as one of his subjects. Alison's work was described as disgusting /ugly, as was her sculpture of her by Brian Sewell amongst others.

Yesterday I read an Independent article by Deborah Orr on the train on my way back from London. She challenges us to celebrate giving birth to children with impairments as we celebrate the sculpture's beauty.

So how do we judge beauty then? Does it have to be classical (as the statue clearly is - it's like the Venus de Milo)? How do we get ourselves to see difference as beautiful? Self-portraits were used by Frida and are also used by Alison to explore their own ideas of beauty and identity - and these can be shared by us - they certainly made me thing about my own views of myself and how I see others.

No comments: