Museum desperately seeks Frida Kahlo painting last seen in Poland

Young visitors take pictures on November 28, 2017 at the entrance of the exhibition on the famed Mexican married Mexican couple Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera at the ZAMEK Culture Center in Poznan, Poland. (AFP)
Updated 03 December 2017
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Museum desperately seeks Frida Kahlo painting last seen in Poland

POZNAN: After taking an overnight bus to Poznan in Poland for an exhibition on Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, two Portuguese sisters are now standing in front of a curious blue suggestion box.
“Who can tell us what happened to the missing painting or where we can find it?” reads a sign next to a photo of Kahlo’s largest work, “The Wounded Table,” a mysterious surrealist masterpiece that vanished without a trace in Warsaw more than half a century ago.
“I wrote that the painting was probably destroyed. Or it could have been stolen and sold on the black market,” says 21-year-old Ines Cavaco, currently studying in the Polish city of Krakow.
“For sure. It’s sitting in someone’s living room,” adds her sister Joana, a 23-year-old megafan who did her hair up with flowers in homage to Kahlo’s trademark look.
A black-and-white replica of the horizontal oil painting, a double self-portrait with Kahlo represented both as herself and a wounded table dripping with blood, can be seen until January 21 at “Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera: Polish Context.”
The exhibition at the ZAMEK Culture Center — a castle built for Kaiser Wilhelm II and later meant to be a residence for Adolf Hitler — spotlights the famed married couple’s little-known links to Poland.
Several dozen of their works shine against a vibrant yellow wall that recalls Kahlo’s bright palette and love of life, despite loneliness and pain brought on by lifelong health issues and Rivera’s many affairs, including with her sister.
The exhibition also features work by two Polish-born Jewish artists close to the couple: photographer Bernice Kolko, who captured Kahlo on her deathbed, and muralist Fanny Rabel, one of Kahlo’s most devoted students.
Finally, a blue room focuses on the 1955 Warsaw exhibition of Mexican art where “The Wounded Table” was last shown.
“It must be somewhere. It cannot have just disappeared. Such a big painting. Unless they burnt it in an oven in the 1950s,” curator Helga Prignitz-Poda told AFP.
“That is one of the reasons why I made the exhibition. Because somebody in Poland might remember that he had seen this painting once somewhere.”
At 2.4 meters long by 1.2 meters high (eight by four feet), larger than a standard door, the painting was unusual for Kahlo, who preferred to work small, unlike her muralist husband Rivera.
The artist known for her unibrow, long skirts and heavy jewelry created the painting for the 1940 International Exhibition of Surrealism in Mexico City. For a long time it hung in her dining room, before she donated it to the Soviet Union out of love for communism.
The Last Supper-like work was then sent to Warsaw for the exhibition that would travel around several socialist countries, but the painting never made it past the first stop.
Prignitz-Poda points out that while the painting is considered great today and would be worth around $20 million (17 million euros), back then its “surreal absolutely cruel depiction of the double Frida” went against the preferred socialist realist style.
“There were official statements saying that this painting is not exhibitable, that it is so terrible that they really didn’t find it worth the money to pay for transport. It is possible that the (Russian) landlords didn’t want it back,” she said.
For Prignitz-Poda, who just published the book “Hidden Frida Kahlo: Lost, Destroyed, or Little-Known Works,” the disappearance is frustrating because only half of Kahlo’s 300 works are available to see. The rest are missing, burnt or in collections that never lend.
“I’m happy that I got to see even a bit of this legend in the original. Mexico’s far,” said 56-year-old actor Krzysztof Najbor, who took the train up from his southern mountain town of Zakopane for the exhibition.
“After leaving a gallery, my family and I always ask ourselves what we’d walk off with. What we’d like to have at home. Well, there was this small Frida self-portrait that I really liked,” he told AFP with a laugh.
The self-portrait is still there. And “The Wounded Table” is still missing, despite many contributions to the suggestion box.
“People write all kinds of funny things. That because the table’s wounded, the painting must be at the hospital. Or it’s at Putin’s place. Or under their rug at home,” ZAMEK director Anna Hryniewiecka told AFP.
“Drawings too. Children make little maps of how to find the painting. There are reviews of the exhibition. But no information that would actually point us toward some kind of clue.”
But there is hope for a happy ending: a Rivera mural, “Glorious Victory,” that also disappeared in the mid-1950s was discovered in the storerooms of Moscow’s Pushkin Museum in 2000.


Vogue shines a light on Yara Shahidi, Priyanka Chopra and maybe even the Khadra twins

Updated 21 July 2018
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Vogue shines a light on Yara Shahidi, Priyanka Chopra and maybe even the Khadra twins

DUBAI: Vogue magazine is set to spotlight young talent in its August 2018 issue, with a feature on Iranian-American actress Yara Shahidi, possible photos of US-Palestinian DJs Simi and Haze Khadra and snaps of Bollywood-to-Hollywood superstar Priyanka Chopra.
The Khadra twins took to Instagram late last week to post a shot from their project with Vogue, which they captioned “(Behind the scenes) for @voguemagazine August issue.” The magazine has released scant information about the apparent collaboration, but it’s safe to say the final product will be interesting to say the least — the twins wore puffed up, oversized neon coats in the photo with each of their sharp hair-dos dyed to match the green and pink outfits.

Born in Saudi Arabia and partly raised in Dubai, Simi and Haze Khadra, known around the world by their moniker “SimiHaze,” are regularly seen with the likes of Kendall Jenner, Selena Gomez and the Hadid sisters.
The pair regularly play DJ sets at parties and festivals and have even played for eager crowds at this year’s Instagram-famous Coachella festival in the US.
Iranian-American actress Shahidi, of “Black-ish” fame, is also set to be featured in the hallowed pages of the magazine.
Shahidi, who hails from a highly accomplished family — one of her cousins is the rapper Nas, while another, Anousheh Ansari, was the first Iranian-American astronaut — talks about her astonishing achievements in the interview, which is available on Vogue’s website.
“She has discussed political activism with Hillary Clinton and Oprah Winfrey, is a brand ambassador for Chanel, and started a voting guide for young people called Eighteen x ‘18. She graduated last year from the Dwight School in New York, having received acceptance letters from every college she applied to, and will start at Harvard in the fall. She can tell you the year she becomes eligible to run for president off the top of her head,” an excerpt from the interview conducted by Vogue’s Carina Chocano reads.
The actress has, in the past, been vocal about her Iranian-African-American heritage and even called herself “a proud black Iranian” — her father, Afshin Shahidi, moved from Iran to the US when he was eight-years-old, while her mother is a US-born actress.
“One of my greatest fears is living a self-centric life. I think this industry is bred to create that — especially if your physical body is your tool or your face is what makes you money,” the wise-beyond-her-years 18-year-old told the magazine.
She is as known for her political activism as her acting chops, and famously opposed the proposed US immigration ban that caused uproar last year, shairng a message on her social media accounts at the time saying: “If my baba was stuck in an airport because of a Muslim ban 39 years ago, he would have never fallen in love with my mama. I would not exist and I wouldn’t have two amazing brothers.”