Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Frida and me

Frida was born July 6, 1907 in Mexico and named by her parents Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo Calderon. Frida’s Father, Wilhelm Kahlo, a photographer, was a German Jew born of Hungarian descent that had come to Mexico as a young man. At age 6yrs old Frida contracted Polio. Her right leg was noticeably thinner than her left leg.
In 1922 Frida qualified to attend Mexico City's Preparatory high school. Women had only recently been admitted to the Prepa: Frida was one of only 25 females in a class of 2000 students. She studied compos ion, drawing and art and was interested in poetry, history, literature and philosophy.
On September 17th 1926 Frida was riding in a bus with her friend Alejandro when the bus tried to pass a streetcar. The bus collided with the heavy streetcar. In the accident, Frida was impaled on a rod of a metal handrail. Frida was not given immediate medical attention, but eventually was taken to the Red Cross hospital for treatment.
A description of her wounds compiled by her doctor years later in a clinical history, "Fracture of the third and fourth lumbar vertebrae, pelvic fractures, fracture of the right foot, dislocation of the left elbow, deep abdominal wound produce byte metal rod entering through the left hip and exiting through the genitals.
The rehabilitation was long and difficult and for the rest of her life she would endure many surgeries and many recoveries. She lived with chronic pain for the rest of her life.
August 21, 1929 Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, artist were married. They divorced in 1939, and then remarried December 8, 1940 and remained married until her death, July 16th, 1954 at the age of 47yrs old. She said to a Time magazine reporter, "I am not sick. I am broken. But I am happy to be alive as long as I can paint."1953. And paint she did.

On April 30th, 2010 I started studying Frida and her work and I could not have predicted the profound affect she would have on me and my work. I reflect now on the obvious: her pallet was consistent with muted colors. She seemed to have shaded and highlighted her work with black and white. She was the subject of most of her work.
She illustrated her pain, physical and emotional. What courage!

I have learned so much from Frida. Technically, I gleaned the importance of painting as a practice. When we want to master a skill, this requires practice. What I took from Frida, as a person was courage. The real risk is in the attempt to be authentic.

In conclusion, as cliché as this may sound, I am a better artist as a result of this study of Frida Kahlo. I am asking the questions.