Frida Kahlo was born on 6th July 1907 and died on 13th July 1954.  She was a Mexican painter whose great popularity has since spread across the globe. Her distinct paintings of vibrant colors brought out a style that was mainly influenced by the Mexican culture, symbolism, surrealism and realism (Herrera and Kahlo, 205). A closer look at her art reflects her sexuality and pain through her self-portraits. However, most of her paintings reveal the pain and suffering that she underwent in her life.

As a child she was curious and grew up to be interested in nature, photography and science. At a young age of six years, Frida was diagnosed with polio which led to her right leg being weak. Despite the misfortune, she was still mischievous especially in school.   She was involved in an accident at the age of 18 years. She broke her leg, spinal column, foot, ribs, collarbone and pelvis. She resorted to painting as she recovered. This move helped to ease her emotions. This paper seeks to explore the social and historical impacts of her life and work.

Historical Impacts

History reveals Frida Kahlo as the most famous female artist in Mexico.  It is for this reason that psychological discussions centered on violence and sex; her physical handicaps; her marriage and love life in general; infidelities and inadequacies have been developed over time (TopSynergy). However, her communist affairs have either been trivialized or overlooked.

A number of researchers argue that it results into undermining of her work by viewing Kahlo as a tragic an exotic figure. By the time when Kahlo met her death, her work was known to few people both in Mexico and the United States. Increasing publications of her works is what led to her popularity spreading to other parts of the world. 

Kahlo’s life in light with her life threatening problems and especially how she triumphed over them has really encouraged so many people. The odds that faced her were overwhelming. In other words, she has since transformed into cultural icon especially in the nineties. A body of feminist literature has been growing. The body has associated itself with the close relationship between political and personal aspects of Kahlo’s life. Upon realization of her art, many female artists across the world have come out boldly to display and further develop their works.

Many articles about her inspiring art were and are still being written (Herrera and Kahlo, 114). Apart from the articles, there have been catalogues and exhibitions that have been organized in her honor in various parts of the world including Germany, Japan, the United States and England.

The hidden life of women is revealed through the feminine reality of Kahlo’s paintings. A woman continues to suffer internally yet she can still afford to put on a smiley face. Women are not usually free to openly talk about issues of pregnancy, abortion, conception and gender roles. When these issues are mentioned frankly they automatically transform from personal to political statements. Kahlo’s consciousness is therefore portrayed clearly in her paintings rather than in her real life.  The painting entitled “my birth” that was painted in 1932 reveals the process of birth where women play a dominant role as compared to men. The image is startling especially to the western audience since the issue has not been tackled in the region.

Her life and art do not only appeal to feminine scholars but also reach out to a general audience. The continuing struggle and determination especially for women is brought to life. 

The relevance of Kahlo’s art in her paintings, face images, fashion and the movie world has found itself on calendars, jewelry, films, postcards and T-shirts. In other words, Kahlo’s life and art have infiltrated in to the current commodity-oriented society (Herrera and Kahlo, 83). Her contribution to different cultures across the globe is evident as she transforms her sorrows and pain into perversion and art into soap opera.  

Kahlo was known to be a critic even in her tender age. It was therefore not a surprise when she later joined the Mexican Communist Party along with other educated youth. It is reported that she ditched the party when Rivera left.  She passed her social and political beliefs, theories and values to young people. One of the groups that the closely associated with was one that consisted of young artists. She taught them mural paintings.  As much as her art had a political sense, she did not share the same school of thought with her critics.

Through her painting the cultural nationalism was well represented during her time. Mexico’s identity was revealed by the clothes and the furnishings on the paintings. Her art was also characterized by indigenous Mexican symbols and themes thus cultural and political implications at the time. The painting entitled “what the water gave me” revealed her origin. Her European and Indian heritage is revealed by the white and Indian naked woman. The relationship between Spain and the United States of America in terms of the historical continuity of imperialism is also depicted in their respective paintings. Years later, the relationship between these countries grew to affect Mexico. The Indians of Mexico were oppressed as trade ties between the two countries continued to prosper. The situation became even worse during the colonial and neocolonial period. Mexico suffered as foreign countries prospered. 

Kahlo’s paintings criticized the political forces which sought to oppress the Mexicans. She also used her paintings to condemn capitalist theories and ideologies for instance Manhattan’s Marxist condemnation.

Solidarity reveals that Kahlo was always confronted by guilt, fear, loneliness and anxiety. These feelings were coupled with an inner urge to overcome and therefore express the same through her art. This behaviour was seen as normal by people who were close to her as much as they differed in the way they chose to solve their problems.

Solidarity of Frida Kahlo

The way she was independent and having to keep her property and assets distinct from others inspires a sense of uniqueness (Solidarity). She was careful about associations especially when it meant that her material possessions had to be involved. She played important roles in the movements in which she joined because she was always ready to make sacrifices for a course which she felt was just. She would take things seriously as long as she felt they were important.

Her rigidity was however observed when she was stressed. This affected how she related to people. Conflicts normally arose when she was misunderstood. People around her thought she lacked discipline and was inconsiderate. Such moments made her feel over burdened such that she could find a deserted place to paint. She took advantage of such opportunities as getaways from the normal life in order to express what she felt at the time. Despite her caring, feminine, nurturing and tender nature, Kahlo struggled with so many issues as she engaged in organizations, teams, clubs and even networks. It is for these reasons that her character was seen to have great impact to the society.

According to Raquel and Randall (127), Kahlo was very compassionate and showed sympathy towards others. People were attracted towards her because of how she built her relationships. She took relationships as personal associations that had to be strengthened around pillars of kindness and sincererity. She acknowledged the fact that friends could help her in future a fact that only depended upon how she related with them at that moment.

Kahlo’s composure and sensitivity enabled her to calm people who were short tempered. This enhanced her relationship with people as she easily got along with them. Emotional adjustments proved to be her worst moments as she easily changed into a very stubborn person (Solidarity). To protect her loved ones, she created a conducive atmosphere of love to bring them even closer to her.

Her public relations skills were well above average as she could read the psychology of her audience and know how best to respond to them. This value is what kept her going in the various organizations that she was associated with (Raquel and Randall, 123). Her love for art steered her towards her contributions that she thought would have positive and loving impacts to the society in which she lived. The effect of this was the large following and increasing admiration of her art.   

Frida Kahlo has been very inspirational to many people across the world. Kahlo managed to marry her work with her life. She had the special ability to paint away her dark moments meaning that pain that she experienced had limited effect on her. So many lessons can be drawn from her social life. Her values of sacrifice, empathy, sympathy, love and general tender care should be embraced in the present society. Her idea of expressing what goes on in her life especially her deep emotions is a good lesson even to modern day artists as they are encouraged to truly reveal what they really feel. This helps to send a clear message of a person’s life experiences.

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