In every gruesome detail
I first heard of Frida Kahlo in the ‘80’s as I suppose many other people did. Later I read a lot about her, I got a book with her works, saw an exhibition of her paintings in Paris and watched a film about her life. Frida Kahlo fascinates me because through her art she dares to speak of all the things that preoccupy her. She doesn’t avoid the ghosts of the past nor the difficult relationships; she’s not worried about the future. She faces everything in the eye in an analytical way with her paint and brushes, lying in bed most of the time because of her disability. On this bed she probably has dreams or visions. Perhaps she fantasizes about things. Or simply tries to cope with reality.
Frida Kahlo is not afraid or ashamed of anything. She paints the bus in which she had an accident that would have great repercussions on her life as it made her undergo lots of operations. She paints the ugly, unfaithful Diego Rivera, her companion, a man with a strong personality. She paints the child that she never had, and herself as a wounded deer, and again herself divided into “Two Fridas”; her hair is dark, black like her dense united eyebrows and she wears traditional mexican jewelry and clothes, mostly long skirts. She picks herself as her favourite model because she is so often alone, immobilized by a pain that numbs both her body and her soul. She is pretty, she is strong, she loves art and politics. She meets Trotsky who comes as a guest to her house. She has an affair with him.
Our interest in the magical, surreal, dreamy art of Frida Kahlo’s, leads us to an interest in the art of Diego Rivera, with his large mural paintings full of persons. Diego and Frida were both inspired by their political beliefs but also by the indigenous art of Mexico. It is as if the two companions competed with each other to create more paintings and become more famous. In the beginning Diego seems to have the upper hand but Time seems to like Frida most. She earns international praise and renown after her death. Her naif style, the bold colours, the exotic plants trailing in her paintings, but mainly the fact that we can look inside her soul, will become magnets that will powerfully draw the public towards her work. Everybody will become obsessed with her paintings and her personality. Light will be thrown on every detail of her life, people will study it, analyze it, interpret it. We will all get to know her family tree, her habits, the stories of her bedroom and everything in general. We will all become analysts and confessioners listening to her secrets. Because she herself chose to tell us. Because she herself chose to turn her seemingly unfair and unmerciful life into art, not keep it to herself but hand it over to the world. In every gruesome detail.
First published on 06.09.10