Essay About Frida Kahlo
The first time I heard about the great Frida Kahlo was in my AP Spanish class during my Sophomore year of high school. Her unibrow and enigmatic look piqued my interest before her paintings did. “The Mexican portrait painter was truly an influential artist who combined traditional themes with a contemporary style and also helped to promote the role of women in the art world” (kahlo.org). I researched about the artist and learned she lived a very painful and turbulent life. Kahlo’s works are often a reflection of her experiences as a woman. Coincidentally, when I discovered Kahlo, my parents were divorcing and I was heartbroken. I chose to analyze Las Dos Fridas (The Two Fridas) because I saw how divorce can truly destroy a person. Las Dos Fridas were Kahlo’s largest painting and were completed in 1939 after her divorce from the famous Mexican muralist, Diego Rivera. “It’s a portrait of love, heartbreak, and duality” (kahlo.org). One good observation to point out is that Frida is notorious for using human anatomy as an element of the form in her portraits.
The representation of blood seen throughout her pieces is symbolic of loss and death as well as unity and family linage. In this particular portrait, two identical Fridas appear wearing distinct attire which represents the artist at different points in her life. A vein runs between the two Fridas communicating unity; hearts are exposed and vulnerable to love. The woman of the right wears a traditional Mexican dress and tightly holds a locket of young Diego in her hand. The vein connecting her full heart to the locket is intact. This represents the flow of innocent love between her and Diego. The woman on the left wears a European-style wedding dress and clamps down on the vein completely severing ties between her broken heart and Diego. Bloodstains her dress and she risks bleeding to death. In the background, we see an eerie and “stormy sky filled with agitated clouds may reflect Frida’s inner turmoil” (fridakahlo.org). During their marriage, Kahlo became increasingly involved in the study of the indigenous people as Rivera held a strong sense of Mexican nationalism. “She utilized Mexican indigenista iconography to relate both a personal and political output in her paintings” (theartstory.org).
In Las Dos Fridas, her Tehuana dress transmit those cultural elements. Kahlo is of German European descent through paternal lineage. Her white embroidered dress represents her staying in touch with her European roots. Kahlo utilized oil on canvas to create and lay Las Dos Fridas. I believe she obtained inspiration for her choice of mediums through the European Renaissance. “Oil painting dominated because of its flexibility, the richness of its colors, and the extraordinary durability and long-lasting qualities” (Jacobus & Martin 67). As far as elements of painting, Kahlo uses line, color, and texture composition in Las Dos Fridas. Her use of a closed line is essential in order to distinguish two separate women and two separate hearts. The continuous directional line leads us to the vein that flows between them. However, there’s also minimal use of open lines within the sky. The blurriness may communicate uncertainty and emotional instability. Color has always been one of the most dominating elements in Frida Kahlo’s works of art.
During my research for AP Spanish, I because curious about the artist’s choice of color. In her diary she explains the meaning of color and emotions tied to each hue. For example, yellow, a color typically associated with happiness and sunshine, brings sadness and sorrow to Kahlo. The color brown represents a leaf falling and decaying into the earth and blue represents electric love. By her choice of blue to brown color gradient in her Tehuana dress, I’ve concluded that she was deeply in love and towards the end of her marriage her love for Diego decayed. Although she doesn’t mention the color white, it may signify a purifying new beginning or coldness. Understanding the meaning behind each color can help the observer have a better participation with not only the piece but also the artist. Kahlo explores texture through her ruffled clothing, heavy clouds and perfect anatomical illustration of the heart. “Composition refers to the ordering of relationships” (Jacobus & Martin 78) through principles, such as unity, balance, and proportion, that help the artist develop a natural compositional flow. This element of painting is about making the small piece work together to create a masterpiece. According to the Museo de Arte Moderno in Mexico City, Las Dos Fridas is large scale painting that’s has real life-size proportions. She expresses the principle of unity and balance through the holding of hands at the center of the portrait. The holding of hands might symbolize that she is her best and own companion, as Frida Kahlo herself would say “I am my own muse, the subject I know best.”Frida Kahlo is one of my favorite artists because despite her hardships, she continued to pursue her passion for art and turn her sufferings into masterpieces to share with the world. Although some claim that Kahlo was obsessed with self-portraiture, I believe it was the healthiest way she could cope with her troubled life.
In fact, she probably had higher levels of self-awareness than any other artist because she chose to be vulnerable and share her life with the world. If I had another opportunity to write about Frida Kahlo’s works of art I would certainly do it again. I have gained abundant amount of knowledge and have learned how to apply the principles needed to effectively dissect a work of art. It has truly been an insightful experience analyzing of the famous Las Dos Fridas.