The Art Gallery of New South Wales brings Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera's 20th century masterpieces to Sydney for the first time, says Ros Brennan

More than 60 years after her death, Mexican painter and revolutionary heroine Frida Kahlo seems to be growing in influence and popularity. With countless varieties of merchandise being produced and sold the world-over, her paintings plastered on Facebook banners as a feminist badge of honour and the 2002 biopic starring Salma Hayek, it seems that Frida's place in the high echelons of popular culture remains sacrosanct.

Even in her heyday Frida was a celebrity of sorts, followed by paparazzi and flown all over the world to showcase her melancholy portraiture. Hidden behind all the public admiration was a deeply wounded and fragile woman, who weathered the storms of life by pouring her soul into her paintings, like agonised poetry on canvas.

Frida in Sydney: the stories behind Kahlo’s iconic paintings

The storms which rattled her most were undoubtedly her tempestuous marriage with famous Mexican painter Diego Rivera and the devastating bus accident which nearly took her life at the age of 18. Her critics have called her indulgent, idealistic and self-absorbed and the quality of her art is often trivialised; however there is something irresistible about her which has captured the hearts of millions.

Perhaps we idolise her so much because she lived her life the way we all hope to, if it wasn't for our fears getting in the way. She threw caution to the wind and let her impulses lead the way, dressed in unapologetically brazen colours and fabrics, spoke her mind and embraced sexual fluidity before it was even a commonly held phrase.

Click through the gallery above to discover the stories behind some of Frida's most iconic paintings, which are being exhibited at the Art Gallery of New South Wales as part of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera: from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, from 25 June to the 9 October, 2016. For more info and to buy tickets, head to

Art Gallery of NSW, Art Gallery Road, The Domain, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia 

Frida in Sydney: the stories behind Kahlo’s iconic paintings