After reading this wonderful article in The Paris Review a few days ago I decided to devote this weeks’ post to the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo; a woman whose inspirational life and artwork I rightly devoted an entire year to studying at University.
Bold, quirky and unconventional, Kahlo’s paintings have a distinctively revolutionary air. As a teenager I was attracted not only to their unnerving subject matter but also to the handsome, moustachioed woman at their center. As I gradually began to discover Kahlo and the work of her husband, Diego Rivera, the lives I found behind the images were so extraordinary that I fell in love with her work all over again.
Ironically the world may never have had the joy of knowing Frida the artist had Frida the invalid never come to exist. An inability to leave her bed for long periods of her life coupled with the necessity to find an outlet for pent up pain and energy gave us the art we know today…although I am much keener to focus on the woman who had a great sense of her heritage and a strong desire to promote ancient Mexican culture as it was crushed underfoot by the great Western superpowers. Having suffered bouts of severe illness myself, Frida Kahlo is an individual whose story I have drawn strength from throughout my life. However, what ultimately inspires me is a woman who, in a mans world, pushed her opinions and her politics to the fore, openly criticising capitalist culture and lamented a world where the individual, and particularly the female, was forced to take a back seat. Battered, bruised and eventually drunk as she was, she is a figure for all to look up to and admire and she can have a seat around my dinner table anytime.
NB: Obviously I won’t have mentioned (haha!) that Literary Relish will be taking a break whilst I go away to India for a couple of weeks. I am jabbed up and RARING to go so wish us luck! The boyfriend is taking Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts and I am going for two Indian and one very English book so I have the best of both worlds; i.e. something for discovery and something for a bit of nostalgia. Hip hip hooray!