“A rich, vibrant, multi-media exhibition that celebrates Frida’s legacy with flourishing beauty and devastating truth”.⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Sydney Theatre Reviews
Love her or hate her, there’s no denying Frida Kahlo is one of the most iconic figures of all time. Photographs of her are as recognisable, revered and commercialised as her art, putting her in a unique position in the history of famous artists. It’s more than just the flower crown, the thick, heavy eyebrows, and the hirsute upper lip that created her iconic look, but, more importantly, her courage to create an extraordinary body of work despite the enormous odds stacked against her. Where others might have retreated from suffering, she thrived. Through excruciating pain, illness, injury and heartbreak, Frida always gave generously of herself to everything and everyone she loved, transmuting fate’s cruel blows into her art and strong political activism. In modern times her ideologies would probably be considered too controversial and unpalatable for woke culture, but Frida never shied away from something she believed in. Those large brown eyes piercing at you from her portraits reveal a determined, psychological victory that eluded others in her field. Dare! they seem to say. Dare to look at me, and see what I am!
Frida Kahlo: The Life of an Icon at The Cutaway in Barangaroo is a visual feast of colour, stories, montages and immersive displays presented by Sydney Festival. It’s a rich, vibrant, multi-media exhibition that celebrates Frida’s legacy with flourishing beauty and devastating truth. Each room takes you deeper and deeper into the heart of who Frida Kahlo is, guiding the viewer on a symbolic, playful and often religious-like discovery of how Frida created everything in her world when her own world and body were torn apart.
The exhibition on opening night welcomed viewers of all ages, from families with young children through to die-hard art lovers, and was an enjoyable and engaging experience for all. There was surprisingly quite a lot to take in and see, definitely enough to fill the recommended 90-minute viewing time.
The first half of the exhibition gives an informative, biographical account of Frida’s life with visual displays to illustrate the potency of various themes, such as an altar representing the Day of the Dead festivities observed in her home country of Mexico. Also gripping is a 3D animation of the human body being shattered, denoting the infamous bus accident that ended Frida’s promising career in medicine, but gave birth to a new career in art.
The colouring-in room halfway through the exhibition is well spaced out and resourced with plenty of pencils and colouring-in sheets to keep families and budding artists busy. From the walls, Frida’s projected image watches over you, giving you that perfect photo moment.
The next room is a real treat, called the ‘immersive biography’ room filled with dynamic animations across the four walls and floor. The immediate feeling is one of complete serenity and utter surrender to the present while Frida’s story glides all around you – a most beguiling and peaceful effect! It’s easily the most absorbing room in this exhibition (and one of the hardest to leave behind!) so definitely factor in plenty of time to appreciate this room.
The VR (virtual reality) experience was completely unexpected and again, full of surprises. You will actually feel as though you are flying in Frida’s world, even though you are always safely seated in a stationary chair. My stomach did a little flip as we were being lifted through the air, but there was nothing queasy or nauseating about it. Many patrons sitting through the experience were uttering ‘this is the coolest thing – ever!’ and I have to fully agree.
The exhibition closes with a fun photobooth session so you can have a complimentary image or two of your portrait done in digital Frida style.
Overall, Frida Kahlo: The Life of an Icon is a fantastically rich, educational and inspiring experience that introduces the story of Frida Kahlo to viewers of all ages, and allows fans to connect over one of history’s most enduring and fascinating idols. Highly recommended.
Frida Kahlo: The Life of an Icon is on till 7 March 2023. For tickets and showtimes go to https://www.sydneyfestival.org.au/events/frida-kahlo-life-of-an-icon