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Imaginary Playmates: Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera

Plet Bolipata

February 10, 2024 - March 2, 2024

Press Release

Imaginary Playmates: Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera

Imaginary Playmates signifies Plet Bolipata’s return to her first love—painting. Having previously explored various sculptural media and other forms artistic expression, the artist’s latest worksweave together strands of interrelated narratives delving into the complexity of artistic influence, the small and large experiences that inform biography, and the interiority of a woman who, having found her voice in the world early on, has always spoken from the truth of her being.

The exhibition, as it begins, unfolds as a poignant dialogue between the artist and her artistic idols, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, who serve as both inspiration and guiding lights throughout Bolipata’s creative journey. But more than being a creative muse, Frida Kahlo, in particular, serves as a mirror on which Bolipata can examine the contours of her life as a woman, an artist, and a spouse to an acclaimed partner. A theme that runs in the exhibition is Bolipata’s sisterhood with Frida Kahlo, a connection that transcends time and space.

The gallery itself undergoes a metamorphosis, mirroring the iconic La Casa Azul—Frida Kahlo’s home, now a museum open to the public. Bolipata’s mastery of pastiche, combining magazine clippings, free-hand drawing, and the luxurious touch of gold leaf—all against intricate textile patterns—plumbs into the psychological depths faced by women dealing with issues of infertility,their splintered roles within and outside the domestic sphere, and intimations of mortality.

Pastiche, as a technique, allows Bolipata to consider the accidental forces that shape our lives, those aspects beyond our control but no less significant. The resulting juxtaposition of elements creates a thrilling surrealist atmosphere reminiscent of Kahlo’s style, but is inflected withBolipata’s whimsical and ebullient spirit. The appearance of Frida Kahlo in Bolipata’s works becomes a symbol of shared affinity, highlighting Kahlo's lifetime struggle with the overshadowing fame of her husband—a narrative that resonates with Bolipata’s own artistic odyssey.

Despite the weighty themes explored, Bolipata’s works maintain the visual exuberance and generosity for which she is known. Each piece is infused with biographical details, transforming the canvas into a visual diary of Bolipata’s life experiences. A Jeep, for instance, symbolizes the exhilaration of newfound driving skills, while a Matisse book points to the artist’s enduring love for the French painter.

These works, unapologetically unrestrained, collectively form vignettes that offer a glimpse into Bolipata’s life, but through the benevolent lens of art. Each canvas, rich with personal narratives, contributes to a courageous and searching contemplation of the artist’s sensibility in this time of oversharing in social media. Bolipata’s Imaginary Playmates serves as a tonic—a refreshing and invigorating presence in Philippine visual arts. Her homecoming to painting emerges not only as a personal milestone but as a glimpse into the imagination of an artist who is at the height of her abilities.

Carlomar Arcangel Daoana

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