Why do I need feet when I have wings to fly?

She said once when the pain in her body caused by tragic accident in teenage time was unbearable. Even with constant ache that accompanying to her all life she never stopped live and love to the fullest. Symbol of emancipation, free bird and what is the most important extraordinary artist –Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderón, the icon of Mexico.

holding-620Life of Frida Kahlo is already basis of many movies and books. Her diary also provided more information about special and in the same time tragic existence she had. Frida was born 6th July 1907 on the suburbs of Mexico city and died 47 years later. She used to say that there have been two great accidents in her life. One was the train that hit in the bus in which she was sitting and butchered almost all her body (broken spine, ribs, pelvis, 11 breaks of right leg, feet and many sprains). In result Khalo spent 3 months in hospital and during this time she started painting first self-portraits.

Usually Frida painted she (55 out of 143 pictures) as explained that often she spends time alone so person that she knows the best is her. Frida wasn’t typical beauty, tiny, black haired and with bushy eyebrows. She liked to wear long dresses, corsets, platform shoes and homemade jewelry. In her style we might notice elements of costumes from region Tehuantepec (Oaxaca). For sure she was colorful figure on streets of Mexico. Unlike other women’s from her generation she rejected traditional society role that reduce women to being just wife and mother.

frida-kahlo-dwie-fridyFrida had the courage and energy to follow her passion and it led her to Diego Rivera. He was the second great accident in her life and she often joked that it was far the worst. Tall, fat, married artist always surrounded by young ladies. The mother of Frida who didn’t support the couple said that it’s relationship like between “elephant and pigeon”.

Rumor has it that Frida saw her future husband when she was girl and promised herself that one day she will marry this man and give him children. She came to Rivera few years later bringing painted self-portrait. Diego was impressed by her talent and advise to keep own, unique style and continue painting of course. Before the wedding father of Frida warned Diego about health problems of daughter and about “devil” that is inside her. Romance and later marriage with 20 years older men made her life even more intensive.

Their relationship was rough. Plenty of arguments, betrayals, endless break ups and returns. Nevertheless they shared the same political opinions; they support and love each other fully. Unfortunately at some point it wasn’t enough for Diego who needed another impulses and asked about divorce. The time after break up was very difficult for Khalo. Depression, alcoholism, overuse of pain killers due to endless operations. What’s more, she really wanted to have a baby, and she’s had a miscarriage 3 times. As a remedy she focused totally on work. From this tough period descended her best paintings.

Frida Kahlo, by Guillermo Kahlo
Frida Kahlo *gelatin silver print *Oct. 16 / 1932

Frida put on the canvas her own experience, all the pain and emotions. “I don’t paint dreams or nightmares, I paint my own reality.” – she used to say. In her paintings Frida mixed realism with fantasy. Except self portraits she liked to painting still life (“I paint flowers so they will not die”).
Her style is often described as naïve folk art. Khalo often positioned her own body in paintings, showing it in distinct states and disguises: as a child, as wounded, broken, depresses or clothed in various outfits such as Tehuana traditional costume, a man’s suit or a European dress. Her body became a metaphor to question societal roles of women. She was not afraid to picture female body in unconventional manner such as childbirth or miscarriages. During life she had many international exhibitions which most of them was successful. But still mostly she was recognized through the prism of her complicated relation with Rivera.

Frida and Diego managed to live separately only for one year. Frida missed the husband and Rivera realized that only she was able to give him inspiration to work. They married again in 1940 year but this time Frida attached conditions like living in separate houses and manage financially on her own.

Khalo lived in her family house Casa Azul in Mexico City; she painted the walls on blue and decorates the house with colorful gadgets. Nowadays there is museum of Frida Khalo, visited by millions of tourist every year.

14495847454_dd4b8017c8_oWith time her health got worse, had amputation of leg and she started move on wheelchair. She painted even while laying on bed but the pain drove her beyond endurance. In her diary she wrote lastly “I hope the exit is joyful and I hope never to return”. It seems like she expected the death, one month before she gave to Diego the ring as symbol of her love. She died 13th July in 1954. On the last painting she wrote in addition “Viva la vida” which sounds like a message that we all should remember and love life with all heart.

Paulina Gołębiowska

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