Frida Kahlo was a Mexican painter who painted self-portraits. Mexican culture and tradition are dominantly reflected in her work and she always claimed her work as a reflection of her own reality than her dreams. Kahlo contracted polio at the age of 6, had an almost deadly accident at the age of 18 and went on to marry Diego Rivera, the muralist and ultimate womanizer.
Kahlo had a volatile marriage with the famous Mexican artist Diego Rivera. She suffered lifelong health ailments majorly caused by an accident she survived at the age of 18.
Recovering from her injuries she always remained isolated from people which influenced her work greatly. “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.”
Throughout her life she gave many interviews, the best of her responses from one of her famous interview with her husband, Diego are recorded below:
Diego and Frida were both interviewed by Nick Bravo for The World. Here are some excerpts from Frida’s interview:
Frida, your father was a painter and photographer. What kind of effect did that have on you?
Funnily enough my love for painting grew later in my life. Earlier on I wanted to get into medicine. I was so interested in curing people, relieving them of their pain. My artistic side bloomed later.
It was the infamous bus accident that changed your path wasn’t it?
Yes Nick. It’s been well documented. As a part of my healing process, I guess just to relieve my boredom more than anything else, I started painting. And it wasn’t like I had painkillers and experts putting me back together. Those were hard times and I really suffered. I mean, I didn’t get out of bed for a year. But I found an outlet, luckily, in my painting and that in some ways saved me I guess.
Perhaps one of the defining things about your career Frida is that you’ve captured the imagination of a whole generation of women. You’re a lighthouse in some ways for the feminist movement.
I think that’s probably because of my subject matter more than anything Nick. You know, so many of my paintings, I think about roughly half of them are self portraits and in my self portraits I really dealt head on with whatever I was facing. If I was in pain, I drew it, in literal ways I portrayed the emotions I was going through. And I guess that many women have difficulty sometimes expressing that sort of thing. Often women are repressed within the family structure and I guess that my paintings resonate so strongly with women because they are representative of the struggles women face. I think my work too was empowered by my struggles as a human. It was empowered by my love with Diego which ran a fairly torrid course as I’m sure you know. It was empowered by my pain, the constant pain that I went through as a result of the bus crash. And ultimately, it was heavily tinged by the fact that I was unable to bear children. That must be the hardest thing a woman can face, to be unable to fulfill her motherly urges which Nick, you cannot understand unless you are a woman. It is just so strong that urge… I still ask the God why I was denied that right. But maybe, maybe my work would have not been so far-reaching without my struggles.
Retrospectively, what do you feel were the three defining factors of your lives?
My love for Diego, the crippling pain I dealt with from the accident and my inability to have children.
She was a fierce soul whose perspective of her own self was deep enough to make her art beautiful and full of ideas of her own soul and body.
“I wish I could do whatever I liked behind the curtain of “madness”. Then: I’d arrange flowers, all day long, I’d paint; pain, love and tenderness, I would laugh as much as I feel like at the stupidity of others, and they would all say: “Poor thing, she’s crazy!” (Above all I would laugh at my own stupidity.) I would build my world which while I lived, would be in agreement with all the worlds. The day, or the hour, or the minute that I lived would be mine and everyone else’s – my madness would not be an escape from “reality”.
“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me, too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.”
“… and I hope never to return.” Written on the last page of her diary, Frida’s pain was too heavy to wish for another lifetime. She physically left Diego whom she loved dearly, her friends and her art but she lives in every woman who goes through any kind of pain representing every ounce of strength and endurance she showed throughout her life.
“Frida’s postmortem chuckle, a last laugh if there ever was one is echoing still. Half a century after her death, Kahlo, around whom a whole industry has sprung up like a garden on a grave site, grows more alive with each passing decade.”