Frida Kahlo - Painting the Beauty of Pain

 Dear Henry,

Have you ever heard of the painter Frida Kahlo?

Frida Kahlo was a Mexican painter who lived most of her life outside Mexico City,  she was known for her self-portraits and for the unreality of the content.

Her art was so striking because she painted her pain.

In 1925 she was nearly killed after an accident between a bus and a trolley.  The impact broke several vertebrae, her collar bone, some ribs, her pelvis, shattered her right leg, and her right foot.  She also dislocated her right shoulder and was pierced through her abdomen by one of the busses handrails.  She would endure painful medical treatment for the remainder of her life, having as many as 35 surgeries and ultimately would require the amputation of her right leg below the knee.


Of course, I didn't know any of that in the beginning.

The first time I had heard of Frida Kahlo was when I came across a photograph of the painting La Columna Rota (The Broken Column) and it spoke to me.  This was shortly after the release of the movie Frida, and the US had just rediscovered her as an artist, although I wouldn't see the movie for many years.

La Columna Rota floored me.  There is so much I understand in this painting.


Discovering Frida came at an important time in my life.  I was struggling to find a direction with my own art and couldn't get into the swing of self-expression.

It was her ability to paint her pain that got my attention.  Pain is a repellent and yet, despite the sheer agony in most of her paintings, they are all compelling and do not invite pity.

While you can see her pain, you can also see her strength and her beauty.

Her art inspired me to try and contain the wholeness of things in my photography, rather than just the positive.

Because truly, there can be no light without dark.

xoxo a.d.




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