Who Inspires Me: Frida Kahlo

“I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best”

Frida Kahlo

If I was going to do a “September Special” for being the month we celebrate our Independence in Mexico, of course I had to write about Frida Kahlo.

Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderon was born on July 6, 1907 in Mexico City, Mexico. From a very young age, she started suffering. At age six, she contracted polio, which made her right leg shorter than the left, causing her lo limp when she walked. Her father, a German photographer, encouraged her to play soccer, which was a sport not allowed for women, so that she could recover. He thought that playing different sports would also help her gain some confidence. This disease also caused her to fall behind in school; she was older than her classmates and she was even home schooled at some point because of the bullying she received in school.

In 1922, Frida was accepted to the National Preparatory School, an institution with only 35 girls out of 2,000 students. She dreamed of being a doctor, so she focused on natural sciences. But it was then when an interest in politics awoken in her. Besides being an outstanding student, she was also “deeply immersed and seriously committed to Mexican culture, political activism and issues of social justice”.

But then, on September 1925, Kahlo was in a terrible bus accident that left several people dead. She was impaled by a steel handrail, which went into her hip and came out the other side, and because of all her injuries she lived the rest of her life in pain. Her dream of being a doctor ended with that accident. However, it was during her recovery that she began painting.

Frida Kahlo was (and still is) a very recognized and respected woman in Mexico and the rest of the world, not only because of her talent as a painter, but because of what she inspired and the messages she transmitted through them.

“Henry Ford Hospital” (1932)
Frida’s paintings were very personal, as you can see in this one, where she tells the story of her miscarriage.

“The Suicide of Dorothy Hale” (1939)
Frida’s friend, actress Dorothy Hale, had commited suicide earilier that year. The painting was supposed to be a portrait of the actress, as a gift to her grieving mother. However, Kahlo ended up painting the story of the tragic end of her friend. “My painting carries with it the message of pain”, is one of Frida’s famous quotes.
“The Two Fridas” (1939)
It’s believed that these two Fridas represent the “unloved” and “loved” versions of herself.

“Self-Portrait With Cropped Hair” (1940)
To be honest, I love this one (my personal favorite). It says “Look, if I loved you it was because of the hair. Now that you’re bald, I don’t love you anymore”. Frida had a tumultuous relationship with her husband, famed muralist Diego Rivera. The pain of the various affairs he had are also represented in Frida’s paintings.

“The Broken Column” (1944)
Again, Frida expressed the frustrations of her life, the pain she was left in after her accident through her art.

Frida represented feminism in a time where it was not popular to be a feminist in Mexico. But beyond that, I think she has shown us through her art, that is always possible to turn our pain into beauty. Just like Van Gogh did. It always amazes me how it is always the loneliest, the most hurt souls with the darkest thoughts that are able to create something beautiful. How wonderful it is the way we can connect to something so personal, like a painting, a poem or even a song. Frida was wounded by her illness, by the accident she had, by the man she loved the most and by her own sister, when she had an affair with her husband. We’re all humans. We all hurt, but it’s up to us to find an outlet to that pain. Who knows? Maybe we end up creating something beautiful because of that pain. And maybe, we end up finding that human connection we all yearn after all, through our creations.

Disclaimer: I do not own the right to the images featured on this post. They were taken from fridakahlo.org

3 thoughts on “Who Inspires Me: Frida Kahlo

  1. I’ve read an article before about her in one of our local papers and I ve admired her work ever since. And I actually took a google earth tour of her home in Mexico City after reading this. While visiting there IRL beats anything else, it helped me to get a glimpse of her life.
    Thank you so much for posting this article.

    Liked by 1 person

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