Tuesday 4 March 2014

Frida Kahlo :: pain and inspiration

Frida Kahlo was a Mexican artist, probably best known for her self portraits
 depicting how she felt - both emotionally and physically.
 She suffered alot of pain throughout her life ...

At the age of 6 she caught polio, a disease which affects the brain and spine. It can lead to partial or total paralysis. She survived polio but her recovery was long and difficult. Her right leg became thin and withered. (Later in life, Frida would hide her thin leg and foot by wearing long skirts, flamboyant peasant costumes and mens suits).

Despite missing lots of school due to her illness, she did very well - having a photographic memory. She learnt to speak English, Spanish and German. She loved the sciences as well as art and literature.

Frida's sketch of the accident 1926

When Frida was 18 years old, the bus she was travelling in was hit by a tram and she was impaled by a piece of metal .. " the arms of the seat went through me like a sword into a bull " she recalled.
As a result of the crash ::  Frida's spine was broken in 3 places, her collarbone, ribs, her right leg broken in 11 places, her right foot smashed and her pelvis almost destroyed. She was not expected to survive, but did - and suffered constant pain thereafter.

It was during her long recovery that she began to paint.
A special easel was made to go over her bed, as she couldn't sit up.

The Broken Column 1944

Frida portrayed the events in her life, her experiences and her longings - in her paintings. From her turbulent relationship with Diego Rivera, being unable to have children, her body full of pain and all the different medical procedures that had been performed on her ... including 28 medical corsets. The year before her death, her right leg was amputated below the knee.
 Each painting has a story,  and says much more than you can see at first glance.

Henry Ford Hospital 1942

Physical and psychological suffering lay at the heart of Frida Kahlo's genius. The viewer is drawn into her catastophic life story of suffering. At the same time, by exposing her pain unflinchingly to the world through art, she comes across as a woman of amazing spirit who triumphed over colossal odds. She was described as the artist who tore open her chest and heart to reveal the biological truth of her feelings.

With Dr Juan Farill 1951

Frida only had one solo exhibition before she died at the age of 47.
It was during the 1970's that her powerfully autobiographical paintings began to attract serious attention in the art world. Since then, her legacy has grown and crossed national and cultural boundaries. 

What attracts me and many others, is what she and her paintings symbolize.
That forthright strength in the face of adversity. Not being afraid to show what is on the inside as well as the outside. (And she did this at a time when that wasn't usually the done thing). Her paintings will forever be recognized as hers, they will push things in your face and make you think, make you feel. Maybe they will open your eyes to another world. Not a fantasy, not make believe. But real life and real pain.

Her painting undoubtedly helped her cope with the extremely difficult situations she found herself in throughout her life. Finding inspiration from her pain.

1 comment:

VeganHeart said...

fabulous post Jennie. I love Frida, her work and spirit through adversity inspire me very much. You wrote about her so well, and thank you again for my hoop piece of her!! yay I am so lucky. I must put it on my blog soon xxx

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