Saturday, July 13, 2013

Viva la Vida…Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo "Viva la Vida" 1939
Frida Kahlo de Rivera (July 6, 1907-July 13, 1954) Mexican Painter.
As a modern day painter, I am always interested or influenced by past artists. For instance, Frida Kahlo, who once quoted, “I was born a bitch. I was born a painter”. I have spoken about surrealist painters before like Salvador Dali who painted dreams and such, but Kahlo’s paintings are far from dreams, there are more about her life and pain. It’s interesting that the things in life are hard to explain to someone like pain, love, dreams, etc. As a painter, we don’t use words to explain. We use paint and images that express these feelings. I am not a surrealist painter, but I like using their concepts when it comes to expression painting. Another thing is that she is a woman painter. Art history always focused on the men artists and not so much the women. There some awesome women painters out there, O’Keefe, Neel, Morisot, etc..etc… little is mentioned about them or talked about for they are viewed as feminists or against the principles in the art world. This is upsetting to me, for I am a woman myself and a painter. I will probably never been well known until I am long gone but, while I am here I can influence other women to follow their own passions as I have done.   
On with Kahlo, interesting woman I must say. Behind her strange paintings, you need to know where she is coming from. Kahlo was born into pain, at age 6 she had polio, born with Spina Bifida, and then in 1925, while riding on a bus that collided with a trolley, Kahlo suffered many injuries from the accident. Injuries that involved broken column, broken collarbone, broken ribs, broken pelvis, and fractures in the right leg. She suffered intense pain for months while recovering from these injuries. Kahlo had 35 operations and became pregnant 3 times during ordeal with no avail, but to only terminate the pregnancies due to her condition. She was bed bound and isolated for most of life. It was during this time she decided to become a painter. Her mother encouraged her and had a special easel made for her to paint with while in bed.
Kahlo married famous painter Diego Rivera of Mexico, who was famous for his murals. Kahlo admired him as a painter and in 1927, while he was working in the Public Ministry of Education on a mural, she brought him 4 of her paintings to view and wanted advice from Rivera if she had talent in painting or not. Rivera was impressed by her paintings for they were different and very vibrant in color and captivating imagery. Rivera stated to her, “You got talent” and he left her to explore herself as a painter. Later, they married. Their marriage was a very open marriage for they both cheated on each other and for one thing, Kahlo was Bisexual and had many affairs. Rivera was known to sleep with his female models. However, their love for each other was unbroken and at times also painful. Kahlo and Rivera were married twice in their lifetimes to each other.
Kahlo’s paintings were influenced by Mexican culture, bright colors, dramatic symbolism as used in Christian and Jewish art work, and primitive style. Still, she was concerned a surrealist painter, the first female Mexican artist. In 1939, the Louvre in Paris purchased one of her paintings, “The Frame” the first 20th century painter, a female Mexican painter to be purchased by a well known museum as the Louvre.
Kahlo painting, “Viva La Vida”  (1954) was painted 8 days before her death. Her explanation on the painting is that there are wonderful things in life, family and the talent she had in painting. The watermelons are used for the symbolism of life as so sweet and fulfilling, and the vivid color of red for passion of her talent in painting or her love for painting. Long live Life!!
The painting, “The Broken Column” (1944) a self portrait painting of Kahlo, as many paintings of hers was. Out of 143 paintings, 55 were self portraits. She was quoted, “I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality”. This painting shows her reality of having her spine column destroyed and the pain she endured.  Kahlo is standing alone in a empty background of a open field, no sign of animals or plants, no sign of life. Her chest is cut open exposing the broken spine column and she is crying in pain, all alone. For this, is a symbolism of we all endure pain alone as she did.
Kahlo’s painting and well recognized, “The Two Fridas” (1939). This painting is about the love for her husband after their divorce, the deep hurt she felt. The Frida on the left, is being rejected by the love of her husband and it shows with a exposed heart, bleeding and broken, The blood line to the heart is stopped by a medical tool to show that love will not stop or be drained from her heart for him. The Frida on the right, is the Frida that will still love, her heart is still whole while she is holding a small portrait of Rivera in her hand. Actually, the small portrait of Rivera was found among her personal things after her death and is now held in the museum of the “Blue House”.
Kahlo was a interesting female painter, strong-welled and loved much! I always find interesting stories of artists and my favorite story of Kahlo is the she showed up in her bed at her first solo exhibit in Mexico. In 1953, her first time solo exhibit, and her Doctor told her not leave her bed. She insisted on going to her first solo show no matter what. Frida Kahlo arrived by ambulance and had a truck with a bed to follow her to the exhibit. She was carried in by 4 men in her bed. What a story!!! Endurance! Passion! Head Strong woman!
A local critic wrote about Kahlo’s paintings, “It is impossible to separate the life and work of this extraordinary person. Her paintings are her biography”.
Frida Kahlo’s art work can be seen currently in her house in Mexico, the house is made into a museum of her art work. A house called “La Casa Azul” The blue house. Someday, I would like to see her exhibit in real life. Long Live Frida!!!  

"The Broken Column" 1944
"The Two Fridas" 1939