Frida Kahlo, the Mexican surrealist cult artist with one famous eyebrow (1907-1954) painted some 200 vivid, extraordinary self portraits full of symbolism and wit, often with incredible concoctions arranged on her head, many Mexican-influenced, some purely eccentric.
Some 60 years after her death, Franco de Simone, a former Vidal Sassoon Art Director in Toronto, has created brilliant interpretations of Frida Kahlo's Self Portraits and her other famous paintings using still photography and mixed media.
"I photograph what I cannot paint and I paint what I cannot photograph," De Simone said of his 27 portraits of Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera (her husband, the celebrated Mexican muralist), Stalin, Karl Marx and the American man with a hat re-imagined in his latest Exhibition – Frida Kahlo: An Illustrated Life, opening at the Joseph D. Carrier Art Gallery in Toronto July 7 through to September 7, 2016.
A streetcar crash when she was 18 left Kahlo in constant pain for the rest of her life. She survived 32 surgical operations, eventually losing a leg, but the more she suffered physically and emotionally, the more she bedecked herself with flowers, ribbons, bows, clips, combs, jewelry which she wore in her exotically braided hair, even when confined to her bed, and on her deathbed. The incredible concoctions she arranged on her head, as if for a fiesta, were folkloric, primitive, like a Mexican peasant but with a touch of royalty.
Kahlo's strong, dark, connected eyebrows, and a faint mustache she didn't hide in her paintings, are reproduced in De Simone's photographic interpretations, as they are in countless Kahlo images which have flooded the world in posters, postcards, buttons, t-shirts, calendars. There were biographies in the early 90s, a movie with Salma Hayek in 2002, videos are all over YouTube, and it is safe to say that Kahlo inspirations will live on and inspire forever.
For more information about Helen Oppenheim and Frida Kahlo, visit http://bit.ly/28OPxlv.
Video and Photos -
Hair/Artist/Photographer: Franco De Simone
Makeup: Francis Boudreau
Costumes: Frank Rothery
For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.