5 Pieces of Frida Kahlo About Herself
Kahlo's life was fraught with physical and emotional pain. She contracted polio at the age of six, which left her right leg thinner and shorter than her left. In 1925, at the age of eighteen, she was in a bus accident that shattered her spine, ribs, collarbone, and pelvis, and impaled her right foot. The accident caused her lifelong pain and medical problems, including seventeen surgeries. Kahlo was bedridden for three months following the accident, during which time she took up painting as a form of therapy.
Kahlo's paintings are often characterized by their intense, sometimes shocking, use of color, and their highly detailed depiction of the human body, particularly Kahlo's own. Kahlo's work frequently deals with themes of death, pain, and loss, as well as the human body and its ability to endure and overcome physical and emotional suffering.
Kahlo's work was largely influenced by the Mexican culture in which she was raised, as well as by the Surrealist movement. Kahlo was friends with several prominent Surrealists, including Diego Rivera, with whom she later had a tumultuous marriage. Kahlo's work was also influenced by the Realist tradition, as well as by indigenous Mexican art.
1.The Two Fridas
This painting was completed shortly after her divorce with Diego Rivera. This portrait shows Frida's two different personalities. One is the traditional Frida in Tehuana costume, with a broken heart, sitting next to an independent, modern dressed Frida. In Frida's diary, she wrote about this painting and said it is originated from her memory of an imaginary childhood friend. Later she admitted it expressed her desperation and loneliness with the separation from Diego.
In this painting, the two Fridas are holding hands. They both have visible hearts and the heart of the traditional Frida is cut and torn open. The main artery, which comes from the torn heart down to the right hand of the traditional Frida, is cut off by the surgical pincers held in the lap of the traditional Frida. The blood keeps dripping on her white dress and she is in danger of bleeding to death. The stormy sky filled with agitated clouds may reflect Frida's inner turmoil.
This painting is very intense and colorful. It makes us feel the heartache of Frida Kahlo's moment in a very figurative way.
2.Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird
Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, was painted by Frida Kahlo in 1940. Although this painting has a small size (about 16x24), it draws lots of interest, since it contains so many aspects which are symbolic to Frida Kahlo. In this portrait, Frida Kahlo faces the viewer with a background of large green leaves and a yellow leaf right behind her. The thorns are around her neck like a necklace which is held by a black monkey. Her neck is bleeding from the piercing thorns. On the right side behind her shoulder is a black cat. A hummingbird is hanging on the thorn which knots around her throat. Her expression is calm and solemn. It also seems she is patiently enduring the pain.
The woman's calm face in this painting reflects the discomfort brought by the pain. Any emotional fluctuations will produce tiny movements, which will then involve thorns. The black animals surrounding her add a sense of tension, and even the beautiful scenery cannot make her feel happy because the pain is still there.
In this painting, Roots, 1943, Frida stated her faith that all life can join in a single flow. In this painting, Frida is depicted as her torso opens up like a window and gives birth to a vine. It's her dream of being able to give birth as a childless woman. Frida's blood circulates the vine and reach beyond the leaves' veins and feed the parched earth. She is dreaming to be a tree of life with her elbow supporting her head on a pillow. Also with her Catholic religious background it's possible she is trying to mimic Christ's sacrifice by having her blood flowing to the grapevine. This implication of a sacrificial victim is also reflected in a few of her other paintings.
The leaves that sprout from the woman's body in this work are all connected to her blood vessels. They are full of vitality and watering the barren land. They feel like a person who is struggling hard in a dream.
4.The Wounded Deer
In this painting, Frida used a young deer with the head of herself and was fatally wounded by a bunch of arrows. The background is the forest with dead trees and broken branches, which implied the feeling of fear and desperation. Far away is the stormy, lightning-lit sky which brings some hope but the dear will never be able to reach it.
In 1946 Frida Kahlo had an operation on her spine in New York. She was hoping this surgery would free her from the severe back pain but it failed. This painting expressed her disappointment towards the operation. After she went back to Mexico, she suffered both physical pain and emotional depression. In this painting she depicted herself as a young stag with her own head crowned with antlers. This young stag is pierced by arrows and bleeding. At the lower-left corner, the artist wrote down the word "Carma", which means "destiny" or "fate". Just like her other self-portraits, in this painting Frida expressed the sadness that she cannot change her own fate.
Frida used her pet deer "Granizo" as the model when she painted this portrait. She had many pets which she used as her surrogate children and deer is her favorite kind.
This painting has multiple interpretations from different people. Some said it expressed her frustration over the botched surgery. Others said it portrays her incapability to control her own destiny. And some people said it has sexual implications and expressed her struggles in different relationships.
The deer in this painting is in a withered forest, which makes people feel that no matter how much it runs, there is nowhere to hide. After all, it is unable to escape the fate of death with several arrows in its body.
This painting was painted in the year of 1945 when Frida Kahlo was forced to be fed by the prescription of her doctor. In the back of this painting Frida Kahlo wrote down the following explanation:
"Not the least hope remains to me...Everything move in time with what the belly contains. ”