My original exposure to Frida Kahlo was several of her self portraits. While I admired her skill in capturing her own likeness, I wasn't blown away. I had heard her described as a feminist icon, but, based on the self portraits, I wasn't getting it.
Later, I did a little more research and came across more of her work.
Finally, I understood.
I think artists reflect their struggles in their work. We use our art as a way of working through a lot of our emotional turmoil, of trying to make sense of our own pain and the madness of the world.
The more I learned about Frida Kahlo, the more I understood.
She suffered through polio as a child. This led her to dream of a life in medicine. Helping to fight childhood illness would help her make sense of what she suffered.
Unfortunately, in her late teens, she was involved in a truly horrific bus accident. Her life and her body were hopelessly shattered.
How to frame that so that it makes any kind of sense?
The crooked lines of God?
So that she could help lead the world to a Marxist paradise?
So that she could inspire generations of female artists?
She endured dozens of surgeries. She had her heart broken by both Diego Rivera, her husband, and by Leon Trotsky, one of the leaders of the October Revolution.
She couldn't bear the children she longed for. She couldn't go a day without physical agony.
What was it all for?
I look at the pain in my own life and it is nothing compared to what Frida Kahlo suffered.
I hope there was a purpose to it and that she made peace with it all before the end.
There are three specific pieces of hers that I completely love.
Previously, I completed an homage to "The Two Fridas", one of my favorites.
With "The Fish Hunt", I was drawing on the brutal, twisted life of Albert Fish and couldn't help including a little homage to Frida Kahlo's "The Wounded Deer".
Of course, I think my favorite piece is "The Broken Column".
Her struggle was a difficult one. I cannot even begin to imagine the daily pain that she suffered. I admire her idealism in believing in Marxism as the great hope of a great future for the world.
Her life was an unending heartbreak that was reflected in her work.
When you're shattered into so many pieces, is it even possible to achieve a sense of wholeness? For everything to ever truly come together?
That struggle is why she became an artist.
Pain leads us to a creative place and we try to filter it, via our art, into some semblance of meaning.