That was my initial reaction after booking the tickets for the Mexican Geniuses: A Frida & Diego Immersive Experience with Secret London. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always appreciated the art and style of Diego Rivera but, as a man, I find him cumbersome and cliché.
Despite that, I walked into the exhibition excited to celebrate the one and only Frida Kahlo. The goddess with the fight of an Aztec warrior, embodying the will of a lioness protecting her babes, and filled with a creative genius that amazed even the masters of the time.
My icon. My spirit woman.
During this immersive experience, though, I quickly realised whether I like it or not, Frida and Diego walked hand-in-hand in the history of Mexican art. With their revolutionary beliefs, artistic endeavours, and constant encouragement of one another’s ideals, they gave birth to a generation of new ideas in post-revolution Mexico.
The exhibition begins with Diego Rivero. Much older than Frida Kahlo, and already established in the art world, he was her catalyst, her inspiration.
You walk into a darkened room adorned with large reproductions of Diego’s The Painter’s Studio. Opposite this, a screen the size of the wall showing a beautifully executed video of the Detroit Industry mural being created, taking it from preliminary sketches to the finished piece.
Follow through to the other room and suddenly you’re basking in purple, blue and red lights. Turn to your left and you’re surprised by Frida’s The Wounded Table with a 3D play of colour, light and sound, as if you’re watching a surrealist puppet show. I sat for a long while before noticing excerpts of Frida’s diary on the wall.
I know that! I’ve read it! I’ve re-created that drawing!
Suddenly, I was all in. Immersed.
And then the final room: through a pair of unassuming curtains, not knowing what awaits. A large, cavernous space. Bean bags and seats to cushion the fall of being washed over by a wave of stunning visual images that danced with vibrant colours, and the sounds of Mexico sharing the story of Frida and Diego all around you.
The way Mexican Geniuses: A Frida & Diego Immersive Experience was curated was hypnotic. I was left wanting to stay longer, not wanting to risk missing even the smallest fraction.
I’m still fully involved in my own Mexican research project, but I’ve read so much about Frida and Diego’s relationship. I wonder if it was simply being part of this experience and listening to their voiceovers that helped me re-shape my opinion of Diego Rivera.
Frida and Diego. Love, lust, and passion. A fire in their stomach igniting each time they were together, ebbing and flowing as they moved through time and experience. They were each other’s constant. Their lives mimicking the highs and lows of the political upheaval in Mexico with their fight for reformation remaining steadfast.
Well done, Secret London!
I look forward to a Roy Lichtenstein exhibit. Hint, Hint!