Monday, June 05, 2006

Illustration Friday- Portrait- Frida Kahlo

This weeks topic is 'Portrait'. It was easy enough to decide what [or rather who] to paint but not so easy to decide 'how' to paint .

I chose to paint the Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo, because about a third of her artworks are self portraits so I thought it would be interesting to see what I came up with.

Frida Kahlo was born on July 6th 1907 in Mexico City. She had polio at age 6 which left one leg weakened.

Later at age 18 , she was involved in a serious bus crash which left her with devastating injuries to her pelvis, spine, legs and uterus. These injuries left her in almost constant pain, and required many operations and periods of immobility throught the rest of her life.

She poured her pain and strength into her art : the agony and will to live she used to overcome her injuries and the death of her hopes of motherhood.

Her works are sometimes described as surreal becuase she used mythological and fantastic elements to express herself though she rejected this label herself.

She married the painter Diegio Rivera in 1929 in a union described by as the marriage of an 'elephant and dove' due to their very different sizes.
Their marriage was turbulent with numerous affairs and raging arguements - and ended in a very brief divorce before they remarried in 1940.

Frida started wearing traditional Mexican dresses and jewellery which gave her a very exotic look. She did not remove her light moustache or pluck the hairs which grew between her eyebrows [the famous 'unibrow'] which added to uer unusual looks. She emphasised the unibrow and moustache in her self portraits- they are not so obvious in photographs.

Both Frida and Diego were very inolved in politics and they sheltered the Communist Leon Trotsky and his wife until his assassination. Both Frida and Diego were considered suspects at the time but were released.

Frida Kahlo died on July 13th 1954 -possibly of a pulmonary embolism or effects of cancer, though some suspect that she committed suicide [based on the entry in her diary a few days earlier which read "I hope the exit is joyful; and I hope never to return."]

Frida Kahlo's immense strength of will , lust for life and passion for her art is an enormous insiration for me.
I wanted to give her an Aztec look becuase of the Aztec influences in her work - which is why i gave her a background which could almost be a feathered headdress or alternatively jungle leaves.

Her necklace is 'engraved' with an Aztec Fertility Goddess from a codex. Her dress and shawl echo the colours of the Mexican flag.

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lil kim said...

Very nice. I loooove Frida Kahlo. I think I love her story more than her art sometimes, but she has done some amazing self portraits. I have postcards of her artwork on my fridge!

carla said...

Your post was (as always) fascinating, and it was a real treat to come upon your painting of Frida after reading. She looks very powerful and mystical the way you've depicted her...I really love the leaves behind her head. They do have the look of a headdress!