Frida Kahlo Joins Latin American 'Modern Masters' At San Diego Museum Of Art
October 23, 2017 1:11 p.m.
Roxana Velásquez, executive director, San Diego Museum of Art
This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh with spoken before about Pacific standard Time the sweeping multi-museum exhibition underway in Southern California. It is focused on Latino and Latin American art and different museums are taking different approaches to that same. Perhaps a lucky museum and this has turned out to be the San Diego Museum of Art. It is showing nearly 100 works from the collection of Juan Antonio Pérez Simón . The paintings include works by Fernando and Diego and Freda. Joining me now to talk about the exhibit is Roxana Velásquez, executive director, San Diego Museum of Art. Welcome back.Very nice to be here.This is a very exciting event for San Diego. Have any of these paintings been on display before?None of them. I have to tell you that this is real groundbreaking projects for the first time they will be exhibited. In San Diego -- California or in the U.S. this will be the first time that we will see this collection.At 100 paintings, the scope of this exhibit could be overwhelming. One of the highlights?I think this exhibition will be a big surprise for everyone. We are so excited at the museum because it will showcase different motives and different moments of the history of almost 120 years as the name sets we start with the late century and finalize with the painting in that 2008. It is really a big discovery and we have mixed three different subjects and what we are trying to convey is the message that Latin America is very rich concept and very difficult to graph because Latin America is not one thing, it is some of multiple ideas, multiple ethnicities. It is geography so different from one country to another. There are common lines here.So what you're saying is that the way that you are mounting this exhibit guides people through this huge collection so that they can make some sense of it?We separated this 100 pieces and divide them into three -- we started with the landscapes. Not only the landscapes as a geography but landscapes of the people in the portraits of the indigenous people of this country. It allows you to understand from the tropical jungles the rain forest to the big mountains, the volcanoes. Every single artist portrayed this landscape and tried to represent where did they come from. The second thing is the guard. All these artists and this is an important fact to mention all of this went to Europe and had contacted at the time of the event guard movements with Picasso and with the literature so that you will see cubism and symbolism at its best.In the notes for this exhibition the museum says the collection shows the Latin American role in the creation of a modern international style. Is that what you're talking about now how it became -- how this style was embraced by Latin American artists questionedExactly to go that is so fascinating because you're born in a certain place and study at your regional academies but then they travel to Europe parents in Spain and working with the best artists at the time absorbing those elements. Then they return to their country and translate those tools into what they want to project. So it is a creation of modern. What does it mean to be be like that at the time and what does it mean to project who we are together with our traditions? Never denying the traditions of each country just named Brazil or Argentina but with applying the new tools that they got from the cultural capitals at the beginning of the 20th century.This is the second major exhibit at the San Diego Museum of Art's. He owns thousands of works of art as I understand it. Was he eager to have his pictures displayed in this exhibit?Yes, he was. The first was down here in 2011 all was related to Spanish artist and this time for the first time he is showcasing his Latin American portion and he was really excited to be part of it and part of the dialogue that is happening and to discover what is Latin America about. He was generous enough to allow us to have his collection and to groundbreaking.Is it unusual to actually be able to see a painting of his outside of Mexico?Yes, you are mentioning a wonderful subject. There are certain artists for certain countries that are considered national patrimony therefore it is not easy to export them. It is very difficult to see original pieces by Freda. It is a very intriguing piece from 1941.You also have a companion piece for kids called Frida & Me. What do you think that kids can appreciate about the paintings?People will understand it in the interactive way how Freda was painting. The way that she used to do the easels on her body because remember she was not able to walk. The mirrors that she use in the sounds that she was attracted to and the animals that she loved. You get to see the soul and the spirit of her which one could say a spirit of Mexico through this interactive large space named Frida & Me.What you hoping San Diegans get out of this exhibit?Am hoping that everybody will discover something and be surprised about what is a powerful creation of Latin America. Some I'm sure will change the concept that they had and will see a wide variety of very important and attractive paintings and will learn that from figurative paintings to abstraction and tradition landscapes is all there.The exhibit both run through March 11 at the San Diego Museum of Art. I've been speaking with Roxana Velásquez, executive director, San Diego Museum of Art.Thank you.Thank you.