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Frida and Diego with Tuffy, Les and Paul

The Art Gallery of Ontario has an exhibition on now called Frida and Diego, Passion, Politics and Painting. We met up with cousins Les and Paul in the lobby and checked out the exhibition this afternoon.

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That’s Paul on the left and Les on the right and Tuffy P in the middle, hamming it up.

The exhibition was crowded today. It seems to have struck quite a chord with the public. The show isn’t just paintings. There is all kinds of info printed up on the walls, and loads of very posed photos of Frida and Diego and even a film projected on a wall. If you like that kind of multi-media approach to an art exhibition, this is the show for you. Listening to people at the exhibition, I’d say lots of people are as interested in the two artists and their biographies as much as their artwork. I’m going to confess up front I’m not a huge fan either of their work. That is to say that I’m familiar with it, but it has never piquThe Rivera murals are interesting to me, particularly in their historical context, but this exhibition was filled with easel paintings. There are some good works in the show to be sure, though. Among my favourites were 3 little drawings by Frida Kahlo done in the mid-40s. The show has a slogan: He painted for the people. She painted to survive. So there you have it. We’re all on a first name basis. You, me, Frida and Diego.

There is one painting I have to mention specifically here. I have to mention it because it might be the single worst painting I’ve ever seen at the AGO. It is a large nude called Dance to the Sun from 1942. It features a highly stylized figure with a rivet-like head and swooshy pointed body parts. Spectacular.

Paul asked us if we had seen the Thomson collection of model ships. I had no idea what he was talking about. I know about the Thomson collection at the AGO, which is really fantastic, but I had no idea Thomson collected model ships too. Paul assured us that he did and that they were on display in the basement. The size of the Thomson collection is so spectacular that I have to wonder what his days were like? He must have been collecting constantly. The model ships were a nice surprise. It’s a great collection of models. Some of them are quite large, several feet long, and many were made with delightful attention to detail. Some were made by prisoners of war – French sailors mostly. Wonderful stuff.

We had a great time this afternoon. After we left the AGO, Les and Paul treated us to dinner at pub around the corner. IPA and butter chicken – yum! Les and Paul have the ability to make any occasion a lot of fun. It was great seeing them today.

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That’s Paul, Les and me, goofing around by the Henry Moore.

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