There aren’t many artists who have had the honour of being compared to the icon that was Frida Kahlo. There are even fewer artists who have actually lived up to the accolade. Maria Fragoso has been recently coined the modern-day Frida Kahlo, and is highly deserving of such a compliment.
Fragoso studied at the Yale Norfolk School of Art before taking on her BFA at the prestigious Maryland Institute College of Art. Once her education was complete, she returned to her birthplace of Mexico City in order to continue her artistic practice. At the age of 25, she has already had numerous solo shows at respected institutions, such as the Thierry Goldberg Gallery and the 1969 gallery in New York. It therefore comes as no surprise that Fragoso was recently recognised to be a rising star by Forbes, who included her in their ‘30 under 30 – Art and Style’ listing.
At the heart of Fragoso’s work lies her Mexican heritage, with many of her paintings being celebrations and explorations of the myriad of coexisting identities within the country. Fragoso’s distinct style, which is reminiscent of the Mexican Surrealists and Muralists that she takes inspiration from, features bold colours and graphic details. In addition, Fragoso also continued the surrealist and muralist idea of using art to convey messages of social unity and self-expression. Her own paintings address the notions of gender expression and queer identity, helping to break down social conventions.
One piece that particularly stands out within her body of work is “No me comas”, which literally translates to “Do not eat me”. In the painting, the mundane act of three people eating at a table has been destabilised. Two brightly coloured figures frame the canvas, each with a pair of scissors in their hands, their fiery red skin reflecting devilish imagery. Encompassed within their arms is a table, which is scattered with an unusual and disturbing selection of items including small, doll-like figures and a heart shaped cake, which has been clawed into. Each of the three figures sat at the table are indulging in this strange feast, their faces being the picture of greed. After looking at the image, one can’t help but question who, or what, is really in control of the consumption taking place?
Having already carved out a name for herself, there is no doubt that Maria Fragoso has an incredibly bright and successful art career ahead of her. Her work is perhaps a little unsettling, but this only strengthens its ability to highlight important social issues and start thought-provoking conversations. She is most definitely an artist to look out for.