In the world of art there are very many sources of inspirations, what is unique is that an artist uses themselves a muse. This is the calling card of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.
In her turbulent life; art was not just an occupation or even a calling, it was a salvation. A way of expression, escapism and exorcism. After a horrific bus accident which left her in constant pain and other health woes. Painting became a way of venting her feelings about her suffering; the other source of pain for Kahlo’s life was Diego Rivera.
Fellow artist, communist and general iconoclast Rivera had a passionate/ unstable relationship with Kahlo over many years. Thanks largely to his habitual infidelity (including actress Paulette Goddard and even Kahlo’s own sister Cristina), although Kahlo was not entirely monogamous (she even had an affair with Leon Trotsky, a friend of Rivera) they divorced and subsequently remarried.
In her art she explores her fascination with of communism, her own heritage and her own difficulties. One of the goriest and saddest paintings depicts her on a bed, legs spread apart and a gruesome birth. The inspiration was from her miscarriage when she and Rivera were in New York. Kahlo never shies away from being explicit with her work. While she was in NY an actress named Dorothy Hale killed herself by throwing herself of a building She was asked to create a Retablo (a sort of religious tribute) by Clare Booth Luce, the finished piece which graphically depicted her body at the moment of impact. Needless to say it was well received.
Kahlo is one of my all time favourite artists. Her works are not only feminine but raw, her depictions of her sorrow very poignant with an almost surreal touch (though she was never a member of the surrealist movement). What is wonderful about Kahlo is that she was always her own person, with her own ideals and never gave a toss what anyone else thought; this includes her infamous monobrow. Still none of this detracted from her talent and beauty. With her fierce patriotism and love of Mexican culture, made her a Mexican icon. Even today her pieces are displayed in museums around the world and Madonna owns one of her paintings.
Would also recommend the film ‘Frida’ starring Salma Hayek, it is a fantastic film that showcases her art and her spirit. Hayek gives a marvellous, raw and touching performance.