Three images (from L to R): photo of large screen depicting paintings of pink and yellow flowers, a photograph of Frida Kahlo collaged with one of her dresses, a mirror image of the first photo

Step Into a World of Surrealism with ‘Mexican Geniuses: A Frida & Diego Immersive Experience’

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The colourful lives of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera are given the spotlight in Mexican Geniuses: A Frida & Diego Immersive Experience, the new interactive exhibition that encourages its visitors to dive deep into the artistic history of Mexico.

Step Into a World of Surrealism with Mexican Geniuses: A Frida & Diego Immersive Experience

Mexican Geniuses: A Frida & Diego Immersive Experience is the product of multiple years of planning and hard work. The project, which came from a collaboration between tech firm Brain Hunter Co., entertainment platform Fever (who worked on Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience) and the Mexican government, began two years ago and finally came to fruition this year with its first phase taking place in London. It comes at a time where we’re really starting to see a boom in immersive and experience-led exhibitions.

The focus of Mexican Geniuses is, of course, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, two of Mexico’s most prominent artists to date. Both a husband-and-wife team and solo innovators, Frida and Diego rose to become some of the most well-recognised figures in the modern art world – Frida, for bringing to life a unique artistic language that spoke to feminist and minority movements, and Diego, for his socially charged artworks that set off the popularity of the mural movement in Mexico and beyond.

Mexican Geniuses is the first multi-sensory exhibition on the pair, and holds at its core the wish to democratise art and culture for all. To quote Diego, ‘art is a universal language and it belongs to all humanity’. Starting in London, the exhibition will eventually be taken on tour across the world, so that everyone can learn about the lives and work of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Speaking on Mexican Geniuses, Josefa González-Blanco, Mexico’s ambassador for the Untied Kingdom, commented that London was chosen as the starting point ‘because Mexico and the UK have a great relationship of appreciation’.

Portraits on the back wall of Diego Rivera, with a Mexican Modernist-inspired sculpture and a copy of one of Diego's paintings in the foreground

Exhibition view from the Diego Rivera section of the first room (photo courtesy of Mexican Geniuses)

Visitors to Mexican Geniuses will find the exhibition at Dock X, near Canada Water Retail Park (the same venue that hosted Titanic: The Exhibition earlier this year). The first room, which sets the scene for the rest of the experience, takes you back in time to early and mid-twentieth century Mexico. Divided into two sections, the first half of the room explores the artistic background of Diego Rivera and marks out his life through timelines, paper mache sculptures and a floor-to-ceiling animated mural. The second half of the room similarly gives us some insight into the life of Frida Kahlo, with her portraits blown up on the walls alongside a collaged mural, and a life-size theatrical rendering of ‘The Wounded Table’ set up for people to watch and take pictures with.

Not one for missing a chance to engage our brains, the section also features a large boardgame-style mat on the floor. Here, visitors can roll dice and work their way across the board to collect timeline facts about Frida, Diego and where they were working.

Large wall mural with text and a hand-drawn portrait of Frida Kahlo, large text reads 'Viva La Vida'

Exhibition view from the Frida Kahlo section of the first room (image by Charlie Colville)

The main room of the exhibition is arguably where the real fun begins. Over 300 projections are cast across screens, walls and floors, plunging visitors into the worlds of Frida and Diego. Sharing the spotlight in segments, the artists take to the stage as digital avatars before leading us through their most famed artworks – sporadic shapes, vibrant colours, portraits, paintings and photographs come to life with the help of audio recordings of passages taken directly from the artists’ letters and writings. It all too easy to get lost in the myriad of swirling images onscreen, especially with the beanbags, benches and chairs littered around the room. The choice of seat is yours, but it’s very unlikely you won’t enjoy the view wherever you go.

Woman walking across dimly lit room with large screens on the walls showing projections of pink and purple flowers

The multi-sensory experience room (photo courtesy of Mexican Geniuses)

Once you’ve had your fill of the 360 degree video experience, you can make your way through to the last two rooms. The penultimate space is set up for photo opportunities, with cardboard cut outs of painted figures from Frida and Diego’s artworks and photo stand-in boards that let you step into the shoes of the artists themselves. There’s also a large whiteboard that takes up one of the walls to the side, where visitors of all ages can have a go at colouring in the lined artwork (and channel their inner mural master).

The exhibition is rounded off with an optional trip to the virtual reality station. Here, visitors can don a headset and let themselves be guided through the home of Frida and Diego (who narrate the experience as glowing, floating orbs) and into an Aztec-influenced afterlife, with the end of the simulation marked by the artists crossing over peacefully. This section, much like the rest of the exhibition, highlights some of Mexico’s core cultural beliefs – in this case, the belief that death is not a dreaded, final chapter of someone’s life. Mexican Geniuses, much like Día de los Muertos, shows that death is celebrated just as much as it is mourned, and those we look up to who are no longer with us – like Frida and Diego – continue to live on through our celebrations of their legacy.

Child sat on a stool with a VR headset on, the room is lit up in red and purple lights

A visitor trying out the VR experience at Mexican Geniuses (photo courtesy of Mexican Geniuses)

Final Word

There’s a saying that you never truly die until your name is said for the very last time. Mexican Geniuses continues to show through its democratisation of art and entertainment just how true this idea remains, as it breathes life into two of Mexico’s most celebrated public figures. As Bernardo Noval, founder and CEO of Brain Hunter, said: ‘Thank you, Frida and Diego. You are alive.’

BOOK

Mexican Geniuses: A Frida & Diego Experience is available to book now, with tickets starting at £19.90. For more information, please visit mexicangeniuses.com

Featured image by Charlie Colville

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