A very compelling interview Judy Chicago gave at the SF Jewish Contemporary Museum, discussing her newly released book , Frida: Face to Face, coauthored by with art historian, Frances Borzello, was an exciting discovery I recently learned of this past week.
Frida Kahlo is one of my very favourite artists because she painted from her heart and from what she says, is her own reality. " Her 143 paintings, 55 of these being self-portraits, symbolically depict her physical and psychological wounds. She insisted, "I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality." The paintings have an honest purity, without any agenda, or formatted style, attached to any particular movement, although many identified her work as surrealist, dadaist, involving gender identity/sexuality concerns and Mexican/Latino/ Amer-Indian culture. Mainly, her work deals with universal themes that enable the viewer to connect to her paintings. Unfortunately most of the historical focus has been on her biography, not so much on the art she created, as Judy Chicago purports in her book, Frida: Face To Face, and it was for this reason she wanted to write. She states Frida has been and is seen as exceptional, an anomaly and not within the context of a long and significant historical continuum of women artists, so often whom have gone unrecognized by art historians in the academic milieu.
I relate to Frida Kahlo's art because of her deep, emotional and passionate subject matter, involving illness, disease, and the psychological suffering incurred throughout life and isolation that often coincides with it.
She once said, " I paint myself because I am often alone". Isolation whether it be psychologically or physically causes one to either be subsumed by the illness or one gets stronger and not only survives in spite of it, but because of it, which I believe develops a strength of character, a great sense of humour, humility and a love for humanity and nature, all integral characteristics I see in Frida Kahlo. She found solace, comfort and a kind of healing in her creativity, love and a passion for all of life.
The movie, Frida, portrayed this very well. Based on the book, A Biography of Frida Kahlo, written by, Art Historian, Hayden Herrera, provided an accurate portrayal of the artist. Cinematographically it was lavish, and a visual cornucopia, showing her garden residence, her distinctive and decorative Mexican style of dress which was important to her.
The transposing and juxtaposing of her painting into the film scenes was a brilliant affect, I especially loved and enjoyed, adding depth and a dimension that brought life into the film.
The Brothers Quay animation at the beginning of the movie, based the celebration of "The Day of The Dead" was so entertaining and remarkable.
Prior to watching this movie, I saw the well done documentary, Frida Kahlo about her life and work that provided interviews with her friends, students and with those who knew and loved her. It was very beneficial and insightful to have seen this prior to seeing the Hollywood version, as it gave me factual information to compare and to contrast. The documentary production was very informative and interesting through out, including as well, actual film footage of Frida which was captivating.
The Frida Kahlo site , started by Mrs. Isalda P. Kahlo , Frida's niece, is a wonderful source of information, carrying on her aunt's legacy and memory. legacy.
" I would like to be able to do whatever I want to behind the curtain of
"madness ." In this way: I would arrange flowers all day, I would paint pain, love and tenderness. I would freely laugh at others, but above everything I would laugh at myself. I would build my world that would be mine and theirs as long as I live."
The complete works can be found at this link, http://www.frida-kahlo-foundation.org/