Perception, perceptions… or Frida Kahlo at Dublin IMMA exhibition, June 2011

One day, as I turned around a corner, I stumbled accross a reproduction of Frida Kahlo’s ‘the love embrace of the universe, the earth, Diego, me and Senor Xolotl’. Chance or miss-step… I have been hooked since then and looking for every opportunity to admire Frida Kahlo’s paintings.

Now I don’t really know much about her, I mean about her life. I have that heavy book, on my living room book stand, staring at me on a daily basis. It includes reproductions and of course bits and pieces on her biography, bits that I don’t want to pick up and pieces I am not ready to read… yet. One day I will, one day… not now, but soon… I need first to fully make up my mind about her and her art, and until then I prefer ignorance! Yes, ignorance! to avoid pre-supposition or distorted interpretation based on specific social constructs. Indeed, ignorance lets art happen, lets art imprint on the easel of my mind what her paintings are saying, and not what societies are. Only once I have made up my own mind, can I read anything and then agree, disagree, discuss, critic, appreciate or whatever will come my mind.

So here I was last June, ignorant and standing at the entrance of the Dublin Museum of modern art (IMMA), about to discover the true ‘love embrace of the universe, the earth, Diego, me and Senor Xolotl’, and not just a copy. Imagine… I had that one chance to fall in love all over again with that painting… and I did, the piece simply stunning, simply wordless. There was a few other paintings in display and there was of course those bits and pieces written about her on wall poster and that day, as I was reading a biography of Frida Kahlo, I realized I was ready to leave ignorance behind. The text read something like: ‘A victim, Frida Kahlo masterfully recasts herself in roles such as martyr, seductress or native indian in order to compensate for that which life denied her.’ Reading this again, I stumbled on most words -victim -recast -martyr -seductress -compensate…. Have you ever seen ‘the Love embrace’? or ‘Moses’? Have you seen a victim there? I see depth, I see a sense of connection between everything, I see beyond the every day life of a victim, I see life and power, I see emotions, I see something bigger than any word I can think of, I see amazement, I see wonder.

In 1939, while Frida Kahlo exhibited in Paris, Andre Breton, a french surrealist, commented on her paintings as being surrealist. Her response was direct: “They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn’t. I never painted dreams. I painted my reality.“ If Frida Kahlo was reading this past June exhibition comments, she would most likely replied, “They thought I was a victim, but I wasn’t. I painted my reality.“ and what about words like recast… or compensate… Describing her own art, Frida Kahlo mentioned one day: ‘The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to, and I paint whatever passes through my head without any other consideration.’ How does people get recast and compensate from this? Interestingly enough, in the movie Frida, there is no mention of Nicholas Murray, a hungarian-american photographer who had a 10-years long affair with Frida Kahlo and made the most amazing pictures of her, one being simply of her broken spine. I wonder… was there an intent in forgetting that part of her story… was there an intent in forgetting a good story in her life…

Let’s put down the brushes and the palette, and look at the easel of biographical facts -black, Frida Kahlo has a dramatic tram accident in 1925, aged 18 -brown, which leaves her recovering in bed for a year -yellow, and while she is bedridden and bored -blue, she asks her dad to attach an easel to her bed and a mirror in the canopy overhead. -orange, She starts painting self-portraits. -red, She paints self-portraits as her most consistent and successful mode of expression -purple, ‘I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best.’ -green, Fact- we have a young adult, Frida, and that young adult realizes she has a choice -white, doing nothing or painting, and she chooses -indigo, and her choice drives her into becoming a well known painter. Don’t we call that a fighter?

 

© 2011 Florence Dambricourt – https://talking4good.com/