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Isabelle de Borchgrave

Naples Art Institute to host her incredible paper universe

Naples Art Institute is proud to be the first North American venue to host Miradas de Mujeres: Isabelle de Borchgrave and the World of Frida Kahlo, a new collection and exhibition of paper dresses and environments by the Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave (born 1946) which was inspired by the style and house of the iconic Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (1907–1954).

De Borchgrave, a painter by training, is known for re-creating historical fashion and textiles out of paper. From masterful recreations of elaborate Renaissance gowns to whimsical costumes from the Ballet Russes, de Borchgrave’s breathtaking, life-size works have been featured in major exhibitions around the world.

Miradas de Mujeres (Perspectives of Women) invites the viewer to step into the home of Frida Kahlo - her Casa Azul - via a spectacular trompe l’oeil universe constructed from paper. De Borchgrave depicts an entire Kahlo world – dresses, jewelry, cupboards, carpets, and plants, in paper and colors that remind us of the artist’s joie de vivre, a side of her that is oft overlooked. The exhibition imagines a dialogue between two women who have never met, but who share a love of fabric, patterns, and colors. Visitors to the exhibition will have the opportunity to stroll through Frida Kahlo’s living room, her atelier, her kitchen, her dressing room, or the garden.

Created over the course of three years, Miradas de Mujeres is a tour-de-force installation that was entirely painted by hand. The artist used more than two miles of paper and cardboard to make the dresses, rugs, furniture, trees, and other elements that are featured in Frida Kahlo’s house. The installation offers a new and refreshing look into Frida Kahlo’s intimate personality, which is surprisingly more cheerful and radiant than her artistic work might suggest.

“This project goes above and beyond anything Isabelle de Borchgrave has done before. By asking the viewer to take part in a multi-sensory environment, Isabelle shares the experiences and impressions she absorbed when she visited the Casa Azul and the Mexican countryside,” explains Frank Verpoorten, Naples Art Institute’s Executive Director and Chief Curator.

The unique exhibition offers a female perspective on the place of the artist in society. Talking about Frida Kahlo came quite naturally for Isabelle de Borchgrave, “I wanted to tell Frida’s story in a different way. She suffered so much but transcended her pain with her joie de vivre, her cheerfulness, her love of men and women, and her way of life especially. She was very unique and her fashion was inspired by the dresses and fabrics from every region of Mexico. All of this resonated with me, as I am a big lover of fabrics.”

Miradas de Mujeres is a new extension within Isabelle de Borchgrave’s oeuvre. Naples Art Institute Executive Director and Chief Curator Frank Verpoorten states: “I had the pleasure of working with Isabelle on several magnificent exhibition projects over the past ten years. In this new installation, she has seemingly surpassed all of her past achievements by expanding her typical paper dresses to imagining entire environments. By creating an immersive exhibition experience, Isabelle draws on the full spectrum of her multifaceted skillset as a set designer, a painter, a trompe l’oeil artist, and a style icon,” said Frank Verpoorten. “What makes her work so accessible is that as a viewer, we share the passion and joy the artist had in creating these stunning dresses, animals, plants, furniture, etc.”


Miradas de Mujeres will be on view at Naples Art Institute now through June 11, and is generously underwritten by Eijk and Rose-Marie Van Otterloo of Naples, FL.

This exhibition is supported by the Collier County Tourist Development Council.

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