“I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone… because I am the subject I know best.”
Frida Kahlo, a survivor, a feminist, an artist, a lover and a revolutionary.
As a young woman, becoming a painter was not her career goal. She wanted to be a doctor, but the accident changed the course of her life. Did it change for better? Guess it did. Most importantly it did not stop her from being who she was instead she reinvented herself. Started painting, fell in love with both men and women, dressed sassy and oh! that unibrow and that moustache, she was so proud of them that she used special tools to groom them.
She wanted to love and she wanted to be loved in return; maybe that is why she had mirrors all over her bedroom, she was obsessed with them. I think they helped her to be her own favourite subject, maybe they helped her know herself better.
It’s been 61 years since her tragic death but every time I read about her, I stare at the words and I wonder there is so much we can learn from this one woman who proclaimed;
“I was born a bitch… I was born a painter.”
“I have always admired Frida, she is my inspiration. I love how she never gave up on herself. In spite of being so helpless because of her situations and her medical conditions, she was upfront for anything and everything. Whenever I feel hopeless, I just think about this one woman who had such a rough life and yet a memorable one”, says Priyam, a 21 year-old Delhi University student.
Do we not agree with her? She was one woman everybody loved and she still stays in our hearts. Frida was involved in a fatal accident and was forced to stay on bed for weeks or sometimes months with the plaster cast, but she took it as a challenge and even the accident did not let her stop from pursuing her passion. Even when she was on her death bed and got her feet amputated she said,
“Feet, what do I need them for, if I have wings to fly?”
“The best thing I loved about Frida was how she never got her eyebrows done, so unconventional”, says Ruchika, a fourth-year design student.
In today’s time, when all we want to do is look perfect with completely waxed body not even a single hair visible, properly trimmed hair, shaped eyebrows and clean upper lips, it is hard to find people so bold and daring to flaunt a unibrow or no waxed arms, they’ll prefer wearing a full-sleeves shirt on a burning summer afternoon instead of letting the skin breath. But, Frida was totally opposite and whatever she did, whatever she wore from a maxi to shirt-pants she looked extremely sassy and confident from head to toe, with her all-time favourite hairdo with flowers and the unibrow to that big collection of long skirts.
“Courage, I admire her courage and she achieved a stage in her life at such a young age where she loved herself more than anything else, so much that she used to draw paintings of herself. I could never reach to that stage” Ritika, a 12th class student confesses.
Maybe because she was alone most of the time, she became her favourite person. It is definitely scary but being alone is not as bad as we all might think it is. She knew what her beliefs were; her likes, dislikes and yes, she learnt it the hard way but she never looked back.
She was her favourite subject to paint because she spent so much time with herself that she couldn’t think of anyone who could be the subject of her art, but herself. She gifted people portraits of her so that they never forget about her, so that she’s always in their thoughts. She didn’t have to prove anything to anyone, but she just wanted to live a life that she could be proud of it-be painting while being bedridden or on the streets or on the terrace. She just wanted to create life using her creativity and that is what she did. Her paintings were often violent and severe looking with blood and pain. But that is what her life was about; she was not hiding it, yet not proving anything. In a world thriving for conflict, superficiality and stereotypes, I guess we all need a little bit of Frida in us.
Aakriti, an MNC employee says, “I am a huge fan of Frida and Diego Rivera’s love story. They faced so many hurdles and fearlessly crossed them all. Love is definitely something which keeps you going even in such difficult times.”
The accident left her with major internal injuries where an iron handrail pierced her abdomen and uterus, damaging her reproductive ability and brutally breaking her spine, collarbone, ribs and pelvis as well as resulting in 11 fractures on her right leg. A world where a woman is known to give birth to a new life, Frida had three miscarriages and even though she wanted to be a mother and have a child with her lover Diego Rivera, she couldn’t. This did not stop her either; the anguish that she went through was shown in her art. She would paint the insides of flowers and fruits and used to say,
“I paint flowers, so they will not die.”
Maybe she failed to give birth, but that did not make her less than anyone; she was still painting the skies by finding life in the other facets of nature.
The love that Diego and Frida shared was tumultuous. They were communists, painters and geniuses and they understood each other the best. So many ups and downs and still Diego was right by her side when she was on her death bed. He knew about all her affairs with both men and women and used to tell her how jealous he was with the men in her life.
Maybe she was right about painting the skies, maybe that is how we are supposed to live our lives, by living for today and enjoying and collecting all the moments and memories possible.
Frida Kahlo was, is and will always be an inspiration to a lot of young minds giving them hope and courage to be the best always.