A Woman in Rebellion. The Art of Frida Kahlo


Frida Kahlo de Rivera (July 6, 1907 — July 13, 1954; born Mag­dalena Car­men Frieda Kahlo y Calderón)was a Mex­ic­an paint­er, born in Coyoacán, and per­haps best known for her self-por­traits.

frida kahlo ia hip hop maagazineKahlo’s life began and ended in Mex­ico City, in her home known as the Blue House. She gave her birth date as July 7, 1910, but her birth cer­ti­fic­ate shows July 6, 1907. Kahlo had allegedly wanted the year of her birth to coin­cide with the year of the begin­ning of the Mex­ic­an revolu­tion so that her life would begin with the birth of mod­ern Mex­ico. At the age of six, Frida developed polio, which caused her right leg to appear much thin­ner than the oth­er. It was to remain that way per­man­ently. Her work has been cel­eb­rated in Mex­ico as emblem­at­ic of nation­al and indi­gen­ous tra­di­tion, and by fem­in­ists for its uncom­prom­ising depic­tion of the female exper­i­ence and form.

Mex­ic­an cul­ture and Amer­in­di­an cul­tur­al tra­di­tion are import­ant in her work, which has been some­times char­ac­ter­ized as Naïve art or folk art. Her work has also been described as “sur­real­ist”, and in 1938 André Bre­ton, prin­cip­al ini­ti­at­or of the sur­real­ist move­ment, described Kahlo’s art as a “rib­bon around a bomb”.

Kahlo had a volat­ile mar­riage with the fam­ous Mex­ic­an artist Diego Rivera. She suffered lifelong health prob­lems, many of which derived from a traffic acci­dent dur­ing her teen­age years. These issues are rep­res­en­ted in her works, many of which are self-por­traits of one sort or anoth­er. Kahlo sug­ges­ted, “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the sub­ject I know best.” She also stated, “I was born a bitch. I was born a paint­er.

After the acci­dent, Kahlo neg­lected the study of medi­cine to begin a paint­ing career. She painted to occupy her time dur­ing her tem­por­ary immob­il­iz­a­tion. Her self-por­traits became a dom­in­ant part of her life when she was immob­ile for three months after her acci­dent. Kahlo once said, “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the sub­ject I know best.”what the water gave me i am hip hop magazine

Her moth­er had a spe­cial easel made for her so she could paint in bed, and her fath­er lent her his box of oil paints and some brushes.

Drawn from per­son­al exper­i­ences, includ­ing her mar­riage, her mis­car­riages, and her numer­ous oper­a­tions, Kahlo’s works are often char­ac­ter­ized by their sug­ges­tions of pain.

Of her 143 paint­ings, 55 are self-por­traits which often incor­por­ate sym­bol­ic por­tray­als of phys­ic­al and psy­cho­lo­gic­al wounds. She insisted, “I nev­er painted dreams. I painted my own real­ity.”

Kahlo was influ­enced by indi­gen­ous Mex­ic­an cul­ture, which is appar­ent in her use of bright col­ors and dra­mat­ic sym­bol­ism. She fre­quently included the sym­bol­ic mon­key. In Mex­ic­an myth­o­logy, mon­keys are sym­bols of lust, but Kahlo por­trayed them as tender and pro­tect­ive sym­bols. Chris­ti­an and Jew­ish themes are often depic­ted in her work.

She com­bined ele­ments of the clas­sic reli­gious Mex­ic­an tra­di­tion with sur­real­ist ren­der­ings. Kahlo cre­ated a few draw­ings of “por­traits,” but unlike her paint­ings, they were more abstract. She did one of her hus­band, Diego Rivera, and of her­self. At the invit­a­tion of André Bre­ton, she went to France dur­ing 1939 and was fea­tured at an exhib­i­tion of her paint­ings in Par­is. The Louvre bought one of her paint­ings, The Frame, which was dis­played at the exhib­it. This was the first work by a twen­ti­eth cen­tury Mex­ic­an artist that was pur­chased by the renowned museum.

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Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal

Edit­or / PR Con­sult­ant at No Bounds
Rishma Dhali­w­al has extens­ive exper­i­ence study­ing and work­ing in the music and media industry. Hav­ing writ­ten a thes­is on how Hip Hop acts as a social move­ment, she has spent years research­ing and con­nect­ing with artists who use the art form as a tool for bring­ing a voice to the voice­less. Cur­rently work­ing in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media know­ledge to I am Hip Hop and oth­er pro­jects by No Bounds.

About Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal
Rishma Dhaliwal has extensive experience studying and working in the music and media industry. Having written a thesis on how Hip Hop acts as a social movement, she has spent years researching and connecting with artists who use the art form as a tool for bringing a voice to the voiceless. Currently working in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media knowledge to I am Hip Hop and other projects by No Bounds.

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