Arts / Galleries

Leaping Into the World of Frida Kahlo — New Immersive Houston Exhibition Brings a Legendary Artist’s Ideas to Life

A Pioneering Painter With a Huge Heart, and Plenty of Fight

BY Vivian Phillips // 02.25.22

Frida Kahlo’s work — visceral and often psychedelic — feels interactive even when simply seen on canvas. The “Immersive Frida Kahlo” exhibition, on view now at Houston’s Lighthouse Artspace, only enhances the legendary Mexican painter’s impressive works.

This is no ordinary art exhibition.

“You experience so many things. You can even hear Frida’s heartbeat,” Mara Kahlo, the great niece of Frida Kahlo, tells Papercity. “It is very emotional to have the music and the pictures projected on the walls — a little bit of Frida’s story is included too (along with) her political ideas.”

The show opens with projections of Kahlo’s work that vibrantly wrap around Lighthouse Artspace’s 25,000 square foot exhibition space. Photos of Kahlo’s family, her husband, the titanic Diego Rivera, and political imagery from the Russian Revolution give context to her life’s work. Music and sound design infiltrate the space, enveloping all senses in the world of Kahlo.

“What you see in this show is a marriage of the work of a few different artists,” producer Vito Iaia says during a walkthrough of the exhibition. “Frida Kahlo. Massimiliano Siccardi, who has taken all of her imagery and reimagined it with today’s technology. And lastly David Korins (set designer for Hamilton), who created all of the scenic elements that you see here in the venue.”

The Lighthouse Exhibition space is brought to life with projections of Frida Kahlo's work and life story. (Photo by Quy Tran)
The Lighthouse Exhibition space is brought to life with projections of Frida Kahlo’s work and life story. (Photo by Quy Tran)

A year in the making, “Immersive Frida Kahlo” is the second immersive exhibition produced by Siccardi, following “Immersive Van Gogh.” Fundación Familia Kahlo — a foundation created by Kahlo’s family to preserve her legacy — contributed family photos and information that was integral to the development of the exhibition. Frida Kahlo passed away in 1954.

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In addition to collaborating with Siccardi, the foundation supports nonprofit organizations that align with Kahlo’s beliefs.

Ana Reger, Edward Sanchez and Ruchi Mukerjee enjoy the opening night of Immersive Frida Kahlo. The event was complete with horderves, music, and a red carpet. (Photo by Quy Tran)
Ana Reger, Edward Sanchez, and Ruchi Mukerjee enjoy the opening night of “Immersive Frida Kahlo.” The glamorous art evening featured traditional Mexican dishes, live music, and a red carpet. (Photo by Quy Tran)

“This foundation (was created) to follow the steps of Frida,” Fundación president Mara Kahlo says. “Frida was not only an artist. She was a human being with such a heart.”

Frida Kahlo’s empathetic heart partly can be attributed to the pain that she endured throughout her life. When Frida was just six years old, she fell victim to polio. Consequently, her right leg did not develop fully, and she was left with a limp. A bus accident at 18 left the future artist with a broken spine, dislocated shoulder and various other fractures. It was during the recovery from this accident that Kahlo began to paint. From her suffering, she created a body of work that continues to empower generations of women and trauma survivors.

“Immersive Frida Kahlo” is on view now through late spring at the Lighthouse Artspace, 1314 Brittmore Road. (Closing date to be determined.) For more information and tickets, go here.

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