Frida Kahlo – Connections Between Surrealist Women in Mexico

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Today I went to this excellent exhibition at Instituto Tomie Ohtake which presents a dialogue between a group of female Mexican surrealist artists and also foreigners living in Mexico. The exhibition is structured principally around the work of Frida Kahlo (1907 – 1954)  who only really received global acclaim and recognition decades after her death.

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

The exhibition covers many themes such as identify and presentation, the body, the unconscious, sexuality, Mexican culture, motherhood, dream, occultism and magic.

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

What was interesting for me was the creativity cultivated from what were obviously authentic relationships and dialogues between these exceptionally gifted female artists. This support extended to female journalists and magazine publishers who also supported this movement, and those galleries which hosted female-only exhibitions.

Those who follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn and on my blog will know that I do see problematic aspects of social digital technologies, crowdfunding, and co-creation and sharing events such as meet-ups, since those stuck in ego, and those whose values and ethics are somewhat less than those which are presented publicly, allow for the plagiarism and stealing of ideas, as opposed to the genuine creation of new ideas, ideologies and works of art. I talked about these issues in a recent hangout (see Ego, Leadership, Holonomics and the Shift into Eco-Consciouness).

This is why it is such a joy to me to see genuine movements such as this collective of artists in Mexico, or the Glasgow Boys collective from the late nineteenth century genuinely collaborating to create artworks which inspire awe and marvel.

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

The exhibition has seen huge crowds since it first opened in September. I was lucky to be able to visit on a Wednesday morning, which provided me with the space, time and tranquility to take in these amazing works of art.

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Some of you may have read my article The Truth and Experience of Art. This was the first article in which I explore Hans-Georg Gadamer’s Truth and Method. The article is the start of a series which continues with the second in the series The Ontology of the Work of Art and Its Hermeneutic Significance.

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

These articles were an experimental series which recorded my initial journey through Truth and Method. Since this first reading, I have delved deeper into Gadamer through Brice Wachterhauser’s Beyond Being: Gadamer’s Post-Platonic Hermeneutical Ontology, and this book, along with Henri Bortoft’s Taking Appearance Seriously opened the doors to an understanding of Gadamer’s analysis of Plato, which is non-dualistic and controversial to traditional Platonic scholars and those from the two-world neo-Platonist school of thinking.

But what I was drawn to was the way in which Plato explore the universals – identity and difference, the One and the many, Being and non-being, the good, truth and the beautiful.

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

These readings lead us to contemplate the way in which beauty, truth and the good “belong together” while still attempting to distinguish them. As Gadamer wrote in Truth and Method “the Beautiful reveals itself in the search for the Good”. The beautiful “attends” and “announces” the truth while never reaching an infallible definition of the truth.

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Gadamer, in his reading of Plato, invokes a number of related ideas about beauty which are phenomenal to contemplate while being in a gallery of paintings of outstanding quality, depth and impact. One idea is that when contemplating great beauty, we are confronted by our own finitude in the “inexhaustible richness of what stands before us and what we think we can say about it” (Wachterhouser, Beyond Being, p126).

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Another aspect of beauty which Gadamer highlights is the idea that within beauty there is integrity, and therefore beauty has a moral role to play within our lives, since beauty “challenges us to make our adherence to ethical principles as harmonious, as thought out and integrated into who we are as a beautiful thing is integrated in itself” (Wachterhauser, Beyond Being, p127).

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

I do have further reflections on aesthetics and what I call Customer Exepriences with Soul. But I shall save these thoughts for a future article.

Frida Kahlo – Connections Between Surrealist Women in Mexico is dramatic, in that it takes us on a journey deep into the experiences, reflections, philosophy and psyche of some incredibly gifted female surrealist painters, whose collective achievements are still impacting on us today. The exhibition runs until 10th January 2016, and I can strongly recommend a visit for those who are able to come to São Paulo.

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