5 Artists to Follow if You Like Frida Kahlo
In this monthly series, Artsy’s Curatorial team features a group of five emerging and noteworthy artists who are working in a similar style or spirit as a well-known or established artist. This month, we focus on Frida Kahlo, the legendary modern Mexican artist who is acclaimed for her Surrealist self-portraits, lush depictions of plant and animal life, and magical realist tableaux.
B. 1995, Mexico City. Lives and works in Mexico City.
Influenced by the style and narratives of Mexican surrealists and muralists, Maria Fragoso creates work that celebrates her Mexican culture, while also addressing notions of gender expression and queer identity. Her brightly colored canvases offer voyeuristic glimpses into intimate moments, with subjects engaging in acts that seem at once seductive and mischievous—often while gazing directly out at the viewer.
Recently featured in Forbes’s “30 Under 30” in the “Art and Style” category, the 25-year-old artist is quickly rising to prominence. Born and raised in Mexico City, Fragoso moved to Baltimore in 2015 to pursue her BFA at the Maryland Institute College of Art. While in school, Fragoso was the recipient of the Ellen Battell Stoeckel Fellowship at the Yale Norfolk School of Art. Since graduating, she has completed residencies at Palazzo Monti and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.
This year alone, Fragoso has exhibited her work with 1969 Gallery in New York; Mana Contemporary in Jersey City; the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke, Virginia, in a survey of the Beth Rudin deWoody collection; and in a solo presentation with Theirry Goldberg at Material Art Fair in Mexico City in February.
B. 1980, Montalban, Philippines. Lives and works in Bulacan, Philippines.
Rodel Tapaya paints dreamlike, narrative works based on myths and folklore from his native Philippines. Drawing parallels between age-old fables and current events, Tapaya reimagines mythical tales by incorporating fragments of the present. “In some way, I realize that old stories are not just metaphors. I can find connections with contemporary time,” Tapaya said in a 2017 interview with the National Gallery of Australia. “It’s like the myths are poetic narrations of the present.”
While the content of Tapaya’s work is inspired by Filipino culture, his style and literary-based practice is heavily influenced by Mexican muralists and Surrealist painters such as José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, and, of course, Frida Kahlo. Often working at a large scale, Tapaya has been commissioned to create several site-specific murals, including one for Art Fair Philippines in February 2020.
Tapaya completed his undergraduate studies at the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts. In 2001, he was awarded the grand prize in the Nokia Art Awards, which enabled him to continue his painting studies at Parsons School of Design in New York and the University of Helsinki. Over the past decade, Tapaya’s work has exhibited widely with Arndt Fine Art and Tang Contemporary Art Gallery, and at venues including the Ayala Museum in the Philippines, the National Gallery of Australia, and Galerie der Stadt Sindelfingen in Germany. His work is represented in prestigious public collections including Australia’s Art Gallery of New South Wales, Japan’s Mori Art Museum Collection, the Singapore Art Museum, and the Pinto Art Museum in the Philippines.
B. 1907, Buenos Aires. D. 1996, Paris.
Long overlooked in favor of male Surrealists, Leonor Fini, a contemporary of Kahlo, was a pioneering 20th-century force. Known for having lived boldly, Fini is recognized for her unconventional lifestyle, theatrical personality, and avant-garde fashion sense.
Born in Buenos Aires in 1907, Fini was raised by her mother in Trieste, Italy. She taught herself to paint and first exhibited her work at the age of 17.
After moving to Paris in her early twenties, Fini formed friendships with artists Carlo Carrà, Giorgio de Chirico, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Salvador Dalí, and Max Ernst. Although Fini did not consider herself a part of the Surrealist movement, her work explored similar themes—the unconscious, mythology, birth, and death. She is most recognized for her portrayals of dominant women protagonists, expressions of female empowerment, and sexual liberation.
Fini had one of her first solo exhibitions at age 25 with a Parisian gallery directed by Christian Dior. Her work was then included in the groundbreaking exhibition “Fantastic Art, Dada and Surrealism” at MoMA in 1936, while at the same time she had her first New York exhibition with Julien Levy Gallery. Today, Fini’s work is represented in many major public collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Tate Modern in London, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice.
B. 1992, Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia. Lives and works in Austin.
Born in Saudi Arabia to Pakistani parents, Austin, Texas–based artist Nadia Waheed explores notions of relocation, displacement, and vulnerability in her work. Her life-size figurative paintings are both allegorical and autobiographical—the female figures represent her own lived experiences, as well as the multifaceted identities of all women.
Waheed received a BFA in painting and drawing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2015. In recent years, her work has shown internationally with gallery spaces such as BEERS London, Patel Gallery in Toronto, and Arsenal Contemporary in New York. A solo exhibition of her work, “I climb, I backtrack, I float,” is currently on view with Mindy Solomon Gallery in Miami through January 16th.
B. 1943, Havana, Cuba. Lives and works in Miami.
José Ramón Díaz Alejandro, better known as Ramon Alejandro, paints idyllic still lifes of tropical fruits set in ethereal landscapes. The surrealistic compositions have a similar spirit to Kahlo’s less iconic but equally masterful still-life works.
Coming from a long lineage of artists, Alejandro grew up with the artworks of his great-grandfather, grandfather, and uncle adorning the walls of his childhood home. After growing up in Havana, Alejandro was sent to live in Argentina in 1960 amidst political turmoil in Cuba, and has continued to live in exile since then.
His work has been exhibited extensively throughout Europe and Latin America, including a 1969 exhibition at the now-shuttered Galeria Maya in Brussels. Alejandro is recognized as one of Cuba’s contemporary talents, and has been featured in several exhibitions surveying Cuban art. He is currently represented by Latin Art Core in Miami, where he continues to work today.
Browse more works by artists to follow if you like Frida Kahlo.