São Paulo - Exhibition

Frida Kahlo: Conexões entre Mulheres Surrealistas no México

Instituto Tomie Ohtake

27 Sep 201510 Jan 2016

Curated by researcher Teresa Arcq, this exhibition gathers around 100 works by 15 artists, revealing the intricate artistic network that was formed around Frida Khalo (1907, Coyoacán, México – 1954, Coyoacán, México). The curatorship focus on female artists born or based in Mexico, who were creators of potent artistic productions, such as Maria Izquierdo (1902 – 1955, Mexico), Remedios Varo (1908, Spain – 1963, Mexico) and  Leonora Carrington (1917, UK – 2011, Mexico).

During her life, Frida painted only 143 canvases – twenty of which can be seen at Instituto Tomie Ohtake,  alongside 13 of her works on paper (nine drawings, two collages and two lithographs). Her vigorous presence also pervades the exhibition, making an appearance in the production of other artists who portrayed her. Working with photography, we can mention Lola Álvarez Bravo (1907 – 1993, Mexico), Lucienne Bloch (1909, Switzerland – 1999, USA) and Kati Horna (1912, Hungry – 2000, Mexico). Her figure was also captured by the lenses of Nickolas Muray (1892, Hungry – 1965, USA),  Bernard Silberstein (1905 – 1999, USA), Hector Garcia (1914, Mexico – 1996, USA), Martin Munkácsi (1986, Romania – 1963, USA), and on a lithograph by Diego Rivera (1886 – 1957, Mexico).

One of the most remarkable aspects of the show is the amount of self-portraits and symbolic portraits created by the female Mexican artists attached to Surrealism. For the curator, these works mark a rupture with what separates the public domain from the private sphere. The artists on the exhibition subvert canons by exploring their own psyche through symbols and personal myths. In some cases, there’s a careful appropriation of elements from the pre-Columbian past and indigenous Mexican cultures, like ornaments and accessories that refer to powerful women or goddesses. 

The creative intellectual atmosphere and the relationship networks, centred around Kahlo, exhibited in the show were possible due to a confluence of groups of European exiles – such as British Leonora Carrington, French Alice Rahon (1904, France – 1987, Mexico), Spanish  Remedios Varo and Hungarian Kati Horna –, artists that came from America and remained in Mexico for the rest of their lives, like Bridget Tichenor (1917, France – 1990, Mexico) and Rosa Rolanda (1895, USA – 1970, Mexico), and other visitors related to Surrealism and attracted to Mexican ancient cultures, such as French Jacqueline Lamba (1910 – 1993, France) and Bona de Mandiargues (1926, Italy – 2000), Swiss Sonja Sekula (1918 – 1963, Switzerland), and North-Americans Marjorie Cameron (1922 – 1995, USA) and Sylvia Fein (b. 1919, USA). 

For Paulo Miyada, curator of Instituto Tomie Ohtake, with paintings, sculptures, photos and documents, the exhibition allows the public to get in contact with a challenging aspect of Surrealism, as the intensity, drama and subjectivity of the works exhibited can turn restless even the visitors that are acquainted with the movement.

  • Nickolas Muray_Frida Kahlo en una banca #5Nickolas Muray_Frida Kahlo en una banca #5
  • Frida Kahlo, Diego en mi pensamiento, 1943Frida Kahlo, Diego en mi pensamiento, 1943
  • Alice Rahon_Balada por Frida Kahlo,1956-66Alice Rahon_Balada por Frida Kahlo,1956-66

Related Artists


Teresa Arcq

Special Events

Destination: São Paulo
Where: Instituto Tomie Ohtake
Type: Talk
Admission: Booking

Round table with the art sociologist and professor at the Institute of Brazilian Studies of the University of São Paulo (USP), Ana Paula Simioni; with the Spanish researcher and PhD in Art History from the Universidade Autónoma de Madrid, Patrícia Mayayo; and with the PhD, curator and coordinator of research in contemporary art of the Instituto Tomie Ohtake’s Educational Action, Galciani Neves. Admission is free with prior registration by telephone 11 2245-1937 or by e-mail

Destination: São Paulo
Where: Instituto Tomie Ohtake
Type: Film Screening
Admission: Free

The films of the other artists participating in the show, except for Frida Kahlo, can be seen at the Institute’s Grand Hall, without need for tickets. The screenings happen from Tuesday to Sunday, during the exhibition period, until 10/01/2016. The programme is:

11h30 am: Remédios Varo, 2013. Direction: Tufic Makhlouf. 64min.

1h pm: Rara Avis (Bridget Tichenor). Direction: Tufic Makhlouf. 21min.

1h30 pm: Alice Rahon, 2012. Direction: Dominique and Julien Ferrandou. 64 min.

3h pm: Jaqueline Lamba, 2005. Direction: Fabrize Maze. 120 min.

5h30 pm: Leonora Carrington, 2011. Direction: Dominique and Julien Ferrandou. 107 min.

Contacts & Details

tue, wed, thu, fri, sat, sun 11:00 am - 8:00 pm


R$ 10,00, reduced R$ 5,00; Free on Tuesdays


7200 m2

Ohtake Ricardo

T: +55 11 2245 1900 M: comunicacao@institutotomieohtake.org.br W: Instituto Tomie Ohtake
Rua Dos Coropés 88, Pinheiros São Paulo, 05426-010 Brazil