View from the gallery: New documentary shares Frida Kahlo’s story


In a new exhibition opening at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, Frida Kahlo’s powerful paintings and daring life will be brought into the light.

On Monday, BBC News visited the show with artist Derek Seaton who shared his thoughts on his visit to Mexico with the dramatic artist.

See what he said in the video above.

It’s an American journey. I’m out in the middle of nowhere in Mexico, entering this world of Frida Kahlo. She’s one of the most famous women of the 20th century. She’s an international icon, but she was from this tiny village called Coyoacan. I’m in Mexico to get a sense of the real meaning of her art and her life.

Frida’s art is often about the person, and about the time she experienced that painting. I came out with this sense of the woman being on every surface. There are a lot of portraits, it’s very commonplace for a Mexican to have a portrait of them done. There are many pictures of her to do with her husband, Diego Rivera, as well as of Mexico. This was a very surreal world.

Mexico is a very weird place. Every so often they have these giant cartel trucks that come through and bomb a town and throw grenades at police, and oh, by the way, it’s a typical Mexican home. Frida had a sense of chaos. She lived with that almost. It was so deeply embedded. She lived with a sense of sadness and surrealism. She lived in the chaos, which was very relatable for me.

She lived in a riven world. In the morning, I went out on her garden… In the morning, I went out on her garden with Tony, the caretaker. I stood next to her house. I looked across at the garden as people are now in it. I looked to the west. I looked to the north. I looked to the east. I looked to the south. And yes, some of these viewers are in it. Frida, right here, in your garden, in your house. They all have their own stories.

Back to the home. Even though I didn’t speak a word, she raised her eyebrows. That’s how I made this eye contact. All these moments. That’s how you get her. You get the spirit of the woman herself. And that’s why I felt like I was part of her world. We would sit at her dining table. We would eat with her. We would talk about our art. We would talk about the people she knew. All day long, I was next to her in the garden. I was there as a visitor. I was in the house. She was there in her house. I feel I was part of the family. I saw everything. All of it.

The Royal Academy of Arts gallery is a very sacred place for art, really. I walk by a whole heap of paintings. They were all bought by Winston Churchill. He loves them. He bought one hundred pieces. And that is what this show is all about. To capture the work of Frida Kahlo.

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