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Frida Kahlo and Her Art

       Frida Kahlo’s paintings are interesting to me. Almost four years ago I had the opportunity to see her paintings in the Phoenix Art Museum. To be honest, in that time I didn’t know anything about this artist. One of my friends told me that there was an exhibition of a Mexican artist, so I decided to go. Even though I didn’t know anything about art, I enjoyed her work. Kahlo’s paintings impressed me and made me interested in other artists like Salvador Dali.

       Frida Kahlo was born in Coyoacan, Mexico in 1907. She was one of four daughters. Her father was a Hungarian-Jew and her mother a Mexican-Indian. Kahlo was medium in height, thin, had brown skin, and particular characteristics of her face were her big black eyebrows and funny light mustache. She also had long black hair that was always around the top of her head, and she would wear very colorful bows. She wore Tehuanas (Mexican traditional dresses of the 1930’s) that matched with her big necklaces made from beautiful natural stones. Kahlo had a bus accident when she was 18 years old that seriously injured her spine, shoulder, foot, ribs, and shattered her pelvis. The artist had more than 30 medical operations in her lifetime. During those periods of time when she was recovering from the operations, she started to paint. Originally she wanted to become a doctor, but that dream was frustrated by the bus accident. When she was 22 years old, she married the famous Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. He was 20 years older than Kahlo. They divorced in 1939. In 1953, Kahlo had her first solo exhibition in Mexico. Kahlo died on July 13th, 1954. Before her death, she was asked about what to do with her body when she died. She said “Burn it… I don’t want to be buried. I have spent too much time lying down….just burn it.” Her ashes were placed in the “Blue House” which she shared with Rivera when they were married. Rivera died three years after Kahlo’s death. In 1958, the “Blue House” was opened by the Mexican government as “The Museum of Frida Kahlo.”

       Kahlo’s work was labeled as Surrealism, but she only displayed in her art her own reality, pain, and loneliness. Surrealism is an artistic movement that is based on images produced by the unconscious. These images are spontaneous and created by the artist’s mind. I had a wonderful impression of Kahlo’s art. Her paintings are full of vivid and remarkable colors. It’s like they talk for themselves. Each painting shows emotional moments of her life. Her art is interesting for me because the paintings are kind of mysterious in the way they were painted. Every painting shows happiness or sadness with strong colors, which in the same time shows contrast.

       One of the paintings takes my breath away. It is a masterpiece. There is this big square painting in vivid colors that when I see it from a long distance, I think they are two twin sisters. They have the same hair style, height, and weight, but when I get close to the painting, I realize it is the same woman. They are holding hands and sitting on a large seat in a room without furniture. The floor is clean and brown. The woman on the left wears a Tehuana. The skirt is brown and the blouse is blue with orange stripes, and she is holding a small amulet. The other woman wears red lipstick and a lacy white dress with small flowers stamped on the bottom, and she is holding small scissors. These two women are posing with serious expressions on their faces, as if they are angry about something. It seems like their hearts are coming out from their chests, enjoying the same blood with a vein that goes through both women’s hearts that ends by dripping on one of the women’s white dress. Behind them, a panorama of white and dark clouds gives the impression of the beginning of a rain storm. When I see this painting, it makes me think that this woman has two different characters which are united in the same body. The white and black clouds show the conflicts that this woman has. Kahlo painted this in 1939 and called it “The Two Fridas.” The “Two Fridas” is a self-portrait showing her frustration with life after her divorce from Diego Rivera. The meaning of this painting, according to Kahlo, is the painting shows one woman wearing the Tehuana, which is the Frida happy and loved by her husband, and the other woman, wearing the lacy white dress is the Frida with her heart broken that Rivera no longer loved.

       Today Kahlo’s paintings are popular and very valuable.

The Two Fridas                                         Frida Kahlo