Frida Kahlo, a life between art and passion

Frida Kahlo, a life between art and passion - Frida Kahlo was an active militant in the Mexican Communist Party, in which she also saw an opportunity for women's emancipation

Frida Kahlo, a life between art and passion

Art is a formidable means of expression, which sometimes allows you to react to pain and discover new perspectives. The human and artistic story of the famous Mexican painter Frida Kahlo effectively testifies to this.

She was born in 1907 in the village of Coyoacàn, she already demonstrated a strong artistic aptitude during her studies. However, she decided to become a doctor, enrolling in the appropriate national school. We do not know what course her life would have taken if she had not been marked by a dramatic event: when she was only 18, the bus on which she was traveling collided violently with a tram. The young student suffered three spine fractures, 11 fractures in her left leg, a broken pelvic bone and other serious injuries. After 32 surgeries, she found herself bedridden for a long time, with her torso in plaster.

This period of suffering led her to deepen her passion for painting. In fact, she managed to paint and, wanting to devote herself to her self-portrait, her parents installed a mirror above her bed.

She could thus observe her image of her while lying down. In those days, the distinctive style of a unique artist was born, made of fantastic elements and symbolizations of pain, references to Mexican and avant-garde culture. Her accident left her with consequences that accompanied her for life, with pains and impediments for her already compromised physique. She was in fact suffering from spina bifida. However, her works were a triumph of color and fantasy, capable of sublimating suffering in a visionary, dramatic but highly fascinating universe.

The artist's life was short but intense. He died at the age of 47 of a pulmonary embolism, but lived a life full of passion, both on a sentimental level and in his political commitment. Her connection with the famous Mexican artist Diego Rivera, the "discoverer" of Frida's talent, is known. Their marriage was troubled by an abortion and by the betrayals of her husband, and the painter herself came to accept an "open couple" dimension: she had various relationships, both heterosexual and homosexual. The break came when Rivera cheated on Frida with her sister-in-law. After the divorce, however, the painter returned to declaring his love for his ex-wife and the two were married again in 1940 in San Francisco. The couple came to live in two houses joined by a bridge, to each maintain their own creative and personal autonomy.

Frida Kahlo was an active militant in the Mexican Communist Party, in which she also saw an opportunity for women's emancipation. In 1953 she, together with other famous personalities such as Bertolt Brecht and Pope Pius XII, was one of the signatories of the request for pardon for the Rosenberg spouses, American citizens whom the USA sentenced to death on charges of pro-Soviet espionage.

Such an intense life was reflected in her paintings, which earned the appreciation of critics and other famous artists such as André Breton.

Among the best known and most representative works of Frida Kahlo we find for example "The broken column", in which her body lets appear a cracked marble Doric column: a representation of the accident and the fragility that this had left her. "I'm not sick, I'm broken" she once said the artist "but I'm happy, as long as I can paint". The "Self-portrait with a necklace of thorns" recounts the suffering following the divorce, but also includes picturesque details, with the green and vaguely exotic background, the monkey and the black cat. Flora and fauna sometimes become protagonists, as in "Magnolias" and "Still life with parrot", even if the distinctive figure remains the strongly symbolic one. A particularly marked symbolism in the painting "What water gave me": it shows the legs of the painter, lying in a bathtub, while surreal images appear on the surface of the water, probably transfigured biographical references.

The exhibition “Frida Kahlo. The chaos inside”, at the Fabbrica del Vapore in Milan. The exhibition, closed on November 6 due to anti-Covid regulations, reopens its doors from December 4, 2020 to March 21, 2021. Structured as a real "sensory journey" in the artist's life and imagination, it includes different sections.

Photographs, multimedia animations, projections of the letters between Frida and Diego Rivera are just some of the elements of the exhibition. One room is dedicated to Mexican popular art that influenced the painter, in other spaces three rooms of the Casa Azul, her famous family residence in Mexico, have been reconstructed. There is also a section dedicated to Rivera and his characteristic murals. There are also reproductions of works by the protagonist of the exhibition; they are made with modlight technology, which allows a remarkable fidelity to the original thanks to the LED lighting.