Monday, July 16, 2012

Kahlo, Frida

Me and my parrots
oil on canvas
81.3 x 62.2 cm (32 x 24 1/2 in.)
Private collection

Frida Kahlo utilizes the parrot, which was considered a sacred supernatural being Aztecs. They were associated with sorcery and Kahlo associated herself with sorcery in that she was wonderful at concealing herself. Parrots were called a "nahual", one who took many forms. In her life and in her portraits she concealed her self with imagery by creating personas. A nahual is said to bring a new reality to light, joining the spirit and body so that they are interchangeable. Her use of animals, especially winged animals can be seen as her nahuals that connect her to the realities of the spiritual world.

Frida Kahlo de Rivera (1907 – 1954) 's life began and ended in Mexico City, in her home known as the Blue House. The iconic Mexican painter's biography is riddled with sadness. At the age of six, she developed polio, leaving her right leg thinner than the left, which she disguised by wearing long, colorful skirts. Following a traffic accident in her teenage years, Kahlo went on to suffer further health problems until her death in 1954. She also had a volatile marriage with acclaimed Mexican artist Diego Rivera.

Kahlo's traffic accident was life changing. She suffered a broken spinal column, a broken collarbone, broken ribs, a broken pelvis, eleven fractures in her right leg, a crushed and dislocated right foot, a dislocated shoulder and other complications which affected her reproductive ability. She had several miscarriages and suffered periods of depression.
During three months recovering in a full body cast, Kahlo neglected the study of medicine... she studied the natural sciences, with the eventual aim of becoming a medical doctor... and began to paint, encouraged by her mother. She later stated, "I was born a bitch. I was born a painter". Kahlo channeled her energy and emotion into her artworks and her many pets - Amazon parrots, spider monkeys, Aztecs dogs, hens, sparrows and a fawn - which lived at her home.

During the 1950s, Kahlo's health deteriorated steadily. She went through a series of operations on her spine, all to no avail. Eventually, she was confined to a wheel chair, then permanently consigned to bed. She was forced to take painkillers almost constantly, and the technical execution of her work deteriorated visibly. In the summer of 1954, Kahlo contracted pneumonia and died on July 13, 1954, soon after turning 47, in the Blue House, the place where she had been born. A few days before her death she wrote in her diary, "I hope the exit is joyful ... and I hope never to return ... Frida". In accordance with Kahlo's wishes, her body was cremated. The urn was placed in the Blue House, which was converted into a gallery of her work.