Frida Kahlo endured 34 operations in her 47 years. She lived a life haunted by her tragedy, painting her pain. Sometimes I ask myself what if she didn’t go through a horrific accident at 18, would she still paint her pain and not some other inner problem in her life? Moreover, if she didn’t spend so much time in bed, would she become a great artist technically? The show seems a bit small but well-presented. It summarizes Frida’s relationship with her art, her famed husband Diego Rivera, and her pain.
Every aspect of Frida’s life is set against her pain. And lots of it. Surreal paintings and a few drawings focus on the breaking point in her life, the car-train accident. A broken metal handrail pierced through her pelvis that led Frida into a dark place of endless suffering, surgeries and miscarriages for many years to come. She documents her suffering on small canvases, often painting in bed.
Frida’s art is highly symbolic and powerful despite the obvious lack of technical skill. She explores the symbols of her dreams just like French surrealists. Frida also saves herself from endless suffering by painting symbolic pictures that represent her thoughts. We encounter her husband Diego, blood, fetuses, bed, and animals.
In the show we also see a number of pages taken from her childhood journal. Tight sentences fill in the pages with stories and doodles where we can see Frida’s desire to travel across time and space creatively.
Below you see a sketch of her accident.
Frida’s art is her self-portraits. By comparing her paintings to the black-and-white pictures, I think she paints herself too masculine with a hint for dark mustache and her signature arching eyebrow that looks like a wing. While nude or semi-nude artist appears serious, or even cries in her self-portraits, Frida’s photographs show the artist dressed colorfully, and even with some noticeable flare. She wears long skirts, shawls, jewelry, and the real flowers put in her hair that all point at her girly, untouched by the inner sorrow cheerful personality.
We tend to idealize people once they pass away, give them heroic qualities and subdue their pitfalls. In this show I wished to see the subtle layers of her personality that I couldn’t pick up from her art. Did she feel like a victim who suffered and longed for pity from people around her? Or did she consider herself a hero who overcame her physical and emotional struggles? Did she have any considerable friends who supported her artistic purpose besides Diego? Why did she stay with Rivera despite his countless infidelities? Was it love or weakness? In her art and photographs we see Diego almost too often, and not enough of her surroundings or people who may have helped her heal.
The art show is up at the Dali museum in St.Pete till mid. April. I recommend downloading the museum’s app that guides you through the exhibition, making it memorable. http://thedali.org/
Copyright: All images were taken from the art show at the Dali museum.