Untitled, New York, 1930 PDNB Acc # 0085

John Albok, Untitled, New York, 1930
PDNB Acc # 0085

This is about clotheslines.  The feel of serenity, the association with the lifegiving powers of the sun, the metaphors for human connections. I miss them so much and their simple graphic beauty that everything that looks like rectangles on a line, e.g. traditional Mexican papel picado banners, gives me the joy of laundry art associations. Because I also see them as a serendipitous art form in itself – along with being a meaningful social phenomenon.

The inspiration for all this is John Albok’s photographs at the Photographs Do Not Bend Gallery in Dallas. They surely present the full panopticum of clotheslines symbolism and motifs you can find in a city. There’s the  loneliness of the isolated human figure, suspended in space, in the shape of an empty dress. Or the connections between people housed in the grey buildings of a dense urban space. The intimacy of our inner thoughts that we unwittingly display in public, to air them. The festivity of small laundered items that look like flag pennants on a ship. The comforting beauty of criss-crossing lines that connect everything.  Continue reading

Frida Kahlo: the Nickolas Muray Portraits at PDNB Gallery in Dallas

Nickolas Muray (1938). Frida and Diego with Gas Mask. PDNB Gallery

It’s not an exaggeration to say that we owe the popular image of Frida Kahlo to the photographs of her as much as to her own paintings.  Her relationship with photography is so strong one might wonder why she didn’t embrace it as her own art. The daughter of a photographer, one of her most intriguing early images is in a family portrait, dressed as the son her father craved. Tina Modotti, Manuel and Lola Álvarez Bravo were three big-name photographers within her circle of friends as well as influential artists who put in motion the post-revolutionary Mexican cultural renaissance.  And let’s not forget the powerful role photography played in the Mexican social and political upheavals of the early 20th century.

But the connection here is not just Frida’s friendships with photographers and the power of photography in society. The striking correspondence of her paintings of herself and the pictures others took of her just invites us to look closer and to use one in order to understand the other better. There is definitely a dialogue between her self portraits and her photographic portraits that’s worth exploring and enjoying. Continue reading