Frida Kahlo is amazing. I didn’t used to think so. I would look at her paintings in art books and think “nice unibrow.” Her paintings didn’t interest me. They were colourful for sure, but otherwise they looked boring and depressing. Seriously, how many self portraits can a person paint?
I changed my opinion awhile ago. I was in Vancouver visiting a friend and on a day she had to work I went to the art gallery. The main exhibit was showcasing the work of three women, Kahlo, Georgia O’Keefe and Emily Carr.
O’Keefe was the reason I went. I love her orchid paintings and wanted to see some in person. Once there though, I was disappointed to discover they only had her adobe paintings.
I was starting to think the exhibit was a bust (never been a fan of Carr) until I ventured into the Kahlo wing. I was struck. I couldn’t look away from her paintings and spent a long time in front of each one. They were all self portraits and the unibrow was still very prominent, but the depth in her gaze was jarring. It made me sad. I didn’t know anything about her life, but looking at those paintings told me that it was not a happy one. To this day, I can still remember the pain I saw on the canvas. To think that something that beautiful could be so painful to look at. All the paintings I saw were similar in that they had the vibrant colours of Mexico surrounding a woman in absolute pain.
I never saw the movie about Kahlo’s life that came out a few years ago. Not sure I want to. Sometimes you don’t need to know everything about a subject. Seeing the movie might ruin the experience I had. For me, watching a biography on an artist is not always necessary as their life is depicted in their work. You just have to look for it. Maybe it’s not the correct version of their life, but it’s the one you imagine.