Frida Kahlo


 Mexican artist Frida Kahlo was born in the period of the Mexican Revolution. The advent of Independence meant a renewed and re-invigorated artistic and graphic period which continues through to the present in the cultural life of Mexico. Frida Kahlo was a contemporary of Breton Picasso Duchamp Orozco and Siqueiros. Mexican artist Siquerios is famed for designing and painting the mind bending Polyforum with parading skeletons and he inspired Jackson Pollack there was enormous connectivity between Mexican art Expressionism in USA and in Kahlo's case the avante guarde of Europe though she made an impact in USA as well though not in this nation then far too different!

Kahlo had affairs with Leon Trotsky Tina Modotti and her doctor to name some at separate times. Modotti actor photographer left wing activist feminist & anti-fascist visited Spain photographing during the Spanish Civil War died suddenly under what Diego & Frida believed to be suspicious circumstances.

Kahlo was married twice to the Mexican muralist and left wing activist Diego Rivera. Kahlo documented her passionate rebellion against a moralistic society a true individual her affairs were long term ish she was a typical ish woman who lives an independent life with certain do-able choices due to the crowd she knew she was enabled to live her life fully. Frida Kahlo was a Marxist. In the contemporary sense we say anti-Fascist and to the Left fatefully meeting Diego Rivera participating in a crucial historical period in a common cause to change an unfair political system in Mexico art and politics was their bond. Her observations were intelligent passionately witty both visual and written possessing sharp insight critique and talent Diego boasted of Frida's remarkable insight.

When Frida Kahlo was traveling to school aiming to become a Doctor she barely survived a horrendous tram accident where a handrail skewered Kahlo through her vagina and uterus then through her back. The accident caused her multiple bone fractures including her spine. Had it been her abdomen she would have most likely died from peritonitis aarrgh! She suffered polio as a child leaving one leg shorter after her accident this would have given Kahlo a looming presence with a slight limp her haughty though never supercilious appearance is a common stance amongst Mexican women they like to retain attitude.

Kahlo after the accident spent many bedridden hours in corset like contraptions similar to a trilobite and had innumerable operations. Actually Holy Kitsch! has closely looked at photos and wonders if in fact it was her hips she had operated on more so as she very much disliked the issue with her leg. Kahlo's works were intimate in scale and painted with great fidelity typical of traditional Mexican painting and tin works. Kahlo included frames and they were integral to the work. Her paintings strongly referenced Mexican devotional works indigenous culture politics nature and reflected herself she also painted her body casts.

Kahlo's paintings are autobiographical utilizing a fusion of Spanish indigenous Mexican and contemporary European iconography focusing on being Mexican female and the full gamut of emotions of being a human individual. They are cathartic musings on nature and her relationship to nature cultural heritages and her radical Leftist politics herself and Diego were extremely concerned when Trotsky was found murdered with an ice pick in his back. 

Kahlo's paintings describe a full and passionately lived life that questioned the main stream. Diego was a frequent trope of Kahlo's and despite her affairs was a great love and his influence ever present in her work another major influence would be the work she did with her father on his photos tinting them this made her familiar with photography and why she felt quite at ease in front of a camera it lent her fidelity of detail in painting.

Kahlo claimed not to be a Surrealist in that she painted life. She was a strong and inventive draftswoman and kept illustrated diaries. Rivera's drawings and prints interestingly Holy Kitsch! prefers to his paintings hmm his murals really are amazing he said that he wanted them to be cartoon-like so ordinary folk could read them, he at one time was Cubist. It was Diego who courted Frida it was Kahlo's art that drew them together prior to that a middle class lover's family had rejected Frida as being of the wrong type and bad influence disliking her gait and wild nature.

As artist and legend Frida Kahlo shines as she directly describes her feelings on being a woman an individual determination rebellion and her world as narrative.

In the contemporary sense Kahlo was an environmentalist and saw herself as a reflection and part of nature a viewpoint shared by numerous artists. Kahlo a feminist in her determination and individuality leaving a large body of work a testimony.

It is difficult to view many of Kahlo's works in Mexico as they are held in private and touring collections. Madonna owns a large collection.

Holy Kitsch! acknowledges we have visually intellectually and sensory sensitive patrons.

As an afterword Frida Kahlo was born from Spanish Catholic Hungarian German Jewish and indigenous parents her father a photographer by trade she was self taught here that qualifies you strangely as an Outsider artist though these days that label is more complex. She was acclaimed in her life time in the USA France and Mexico.

What is remarkable about her work like so many other famed artists e.g. Goya who was deaf, Van Gogh who was moody, Koons who is totally mad, Chuck Close mad and in a wheel chair, Warhol who was pretty crazy, William Blake was over the top loopy, Kokoshka carried a mannequin of his ex girlfriend and not for publicity, Mike Parr has only one arm is how they all manage somehow to tell us how they are non robots though that could be an interesting discussion and their weird mental states appears to improve their art, I can barely think of any famed artist in history who people remember as being same as a clerk and none had to enter the disability or women only competitions.

Startlingly in NSW we now have a Disability Award for artists, all of the above artists could readily apply though I am certain none felt like there was anything disabled about them ever though Goya was irritated that he went deaf and all would agree about themselves they may have been difficult personalities yet they were and are awesome.

Actually Kahlo comes under several neat categories in Australia so she would feel very confused, she is a woman that is a special category here, she identified as bi so she would be lumped in with all other bi women,  she had a limp from polio hmm thats a physical disabilty category plus she was moody oh she was part indigenous, gees another category, in other words she is typical of many artists and other humans. Perhaps the disability award like the women's prizes in NSW are for the truly tragic and Holy Kitsch! acknowledges those in that position. Frida Kahlo did indeed live a rich and fortunate life with numerous choices in front of her despite her pain. She was celebrated in her lifetime and never had to enter the Emerging Artist or any other goddam prize and had the opportunity to paint about her life, loves and lows in an intelligent and often humorous manner. She was not forced to live like a spinster or anybody but herself as she was fortunate to know an avant guarde crowd.