Art has the power to transmute that nausea about of what is horrible
and absurd in existence, in images that help bear life.
Frida Kahlo (1907–1954) was an outstanding Mexican artist, whose life and work transcend her time and relationship with Diego Rivera to being part of the history of Latin American art and the pages of international art. Her personal life and creation are inseparable. Hence, all her production turns out to be of purely autobiographical content, a visual and textual self-portrait of her existence.
In the last 10 years of her life, Frida made a manuscript that, after her death, rested in silence under lock and key for almost 40 years, until 2005, the date on which Frida Kahlo’s diary: an intimate self-portrait is published, a document that conjugates word and image. This notebook, it is worth mentioning, goes beyond what we commonly understand as an intimate diary, since its author doesn’t structure it chronologically; In this field, she merges other genres or discourses such as the epistle, the poetic and narrative text, phrases and thoughts, drawings, paintings, and watercolors. And something curious, besides, she never defined it as such; however, the image and writing on paper was for Frida another way of expressing her tormented world marked by her illness; in that space she gives life to her thoughts, dreams, fears, pains, and loneliness. There she refers to feeling concerned about not being able to be a mother because of her mutilated body; exposes her conflictive relationship with Diego (1), her ambivalent feeling of love and hate towards her unfaithful partner.
Although in the manuscript the writing is done with a clear, legible letter, in some cases it is observed how the words merge with their colorful, expressive, dreamlike, and gestural images, as if wanting to hide them behind the drawing; however, in this way image and text become a single element (2). In other cases, the artist creates an image, the representation of which she complements with a phrase, such as, for example, the one in which she conceives herself dismembered (3). One of her legs is replaced by a huge column that raises it, and from the top fall head, hand, foot, arm and an eye. The phrase that illustrates this work says: “There is no more time, there is nothing […] I am the DISINTEGRATION”. Several examples such as the one referred to can be seen in Frida’s notebook, who emphasized “(…) I never paint dreams or nightmares. I paint my own reality.”
The years of pain and suffering experienced by this artist and indomitable woman, who faced death and endured life thanks to art, are reflected in her painting and in her intimate diary, a document of great visual and literary value.
Written by José Gregorio Noroño, curator at Arte Original.