Renowned artist, Frida Kahlo once said, “Me pinto a mí misma, porque soy a quien mejor conozco. Pinto mi propia realidad. La única cosa que sé es que pinto porque lo necesito y pinto cualquier cosa que pasa por mi mente sin pensar” . This translates into, “I paint self-portraits because I am the subject I know best. I paint my own reality. The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to and I paint whatever passes through my head without any consideration” (fridakahlofans.com). Kahlo was born in Coyoacán, Mexico on July 6th, 1907. She is said to be one of the best surrealist painters of her time, despite not considering herself a surrealist painter. Passion and pain describe her work because they reflect back on her life.
At 6 years of age, Frida contracted polio, which left her right leg smaller than the left and then she developed deformations of her foot. Later at 18, a terrible trolley accident left her bedridden for over a year. As a result of her medical traumas, Kahlo resorted to painting, since it was the only thing she could do from bed. Little did she know that she had a natural-born talent to paint. When her health permitted, she sought the critique of famous painter, Diego Rivera, who fell in love with her work and then with her. They married in 1929, when she was 22 years old. The couple divorced years later when Rivera slept with Christina, Frida’s younger sister. Kahlo had written in her diary, “There have been two great accidents in my life. One was the trolley, and the other was Diego. Diego was by far the worst” (liberalamerica.org).
During the time they were divorced, Frida’s work became more recognized and she transformed into the artist she always hoped she’d be. She channeled physical and mental pain into masterpieces, her pain was her art. After years of being separated, Frida and Diego got married once again in 1940. This time, however, their living spaces were attached but separated by a bridge. Frida suffered three miscarriages in the duration of her marriages with Diego. There are many paintings showing her emotions about the losses.
She painted over two hundred paintings during her lifetime. Afraid of being forgotten after death, she painted fifty-five self-portraits creating a message of pain with each one. On July 13th, 1954 at 47 years old, the beloved artist passed away. The entry in her diary days before she died read, “I hope the leaving is joyful and I hope never to return”. (frida-kahlo-foundation.org) This made historians think she died of an overdose, although her doctors recorded it as a pulmonary embolism.
Frida Kahlo lived a lifetime of agony and misfortune, yet still managed to bring forth greatness. Her mind was a dark, twisted place, but she remained optimistic as proved by her entry, “Nothing is worth more than laughter. It is strength to laugh and to abandon oneself, to be light. Tragedy is the most ridiculous thing” (liberalamerica.org). Frida Kahlo’s self-portraits symbolize the good and bad life has to offer, however one’s perception is what makes it unique.