Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, celebrated for her self-portraits achieved great artistic originality particularly through her painted expression . Initially planning to study medicine, Kahlo suffered an accident that left her very hurt bed ridden and led to many miscarriages, both of which are important themes in her work. After this accident, her mother made an easel for her to paint on from a horizontal position. She then devoted her life to artistic expression of her experiences. "Henry Ford Hospital" was painted by Kahlo on her hospital bed after a miscarriage and it explores the relationship between the ideas of motherhood, femininity and loss.
"Henry Ford Hospital"
Kahlo's works were charged with emotional expression of events that correspond to events in her life. In this way, the paintings are highly autobiographical. For example, "Memory (the Heart)" was completed after her husband, the prolific painter Diego Rivera, cheated on her with her sister. Highly creative and expressive, Kahlo is celebrated for the tragic honesty found in this painting and much of her other work.
Memory (the Heart)
Also, Kahlo is regarded for her imaginative integration of surrealism into her work. Her paintings are also charged with natural imagery, particularly connecting her to Mexico, her native land. She also had a trade mark gaze, fierce and powerful, sharing at the observer, daring him to see her, pity her, respond to her. Kahlo also often sets herself in a natural landscape, in this case she is literally penetrated by it, marking the importance of nature in identity.
Furthermore, Kahlo is revered for her frank discussion of female psychology through her work. She deals with not only an exploration of the beauty of femininity, but the complex subject of identity construction and reconstruction due to both social pressures and events of trauma. In "The Two Fridas" she explores the idea of duplicity in female psychology and the concept of a constructed identity.
"The Two Fridas"
Frida was also not shy about political expression in her work. Especially after marrying Rivera, a fellow communist, Kahlo was not afraid to boldly express her Marxist sympathies. Beyond her particular political perspective, Kahlo was revolutionary in entering a cultural discussion of politics as a woman, especially given her radical views.
"Marxism will heal the sick"
I chose Kahlo because she embraced honest artistic expression. She consistently challenged cultural norms of what a female artist should be. She disregarded temptations to depict herself with a synthetic physical beauty, or what might be considered improper, and refused to paint what might be easily accessible or relatable. In that, she was not confined by expectations and broke the ages-long silence about the female experience.
"Thinking about death"
Chicago, Judy, Frances Borzello, and Frida Kahlo. Frida Kahlo: Face to Face. Munich: Prestel, 2010. Print.