One can recognize the artwork of Frida Kahlo whereas realizing nothing of the artwork of her onetime husband, the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. However the expertise of sure of her work might be tremendously enriched by some information of their relationship, the clearest instance being The Two Fridas, which Kahlo painted in 1939 after their divorce. The most important of her quite a few self-portraits, it presents the artist as a set of doppelgängers set aside by their apparel: one wears a European gown, and the opposite a conventional Mexican one. The ensuing tableau may, on one degree, replicate her twin heritage; it additionally, as Kahlo herself put it, reveals “the Frida Diego liked, and the one he didn’t.”
The Two Fridas is the topic of the video essay above from Nice Artwork Defined. “The darker-skinned Frida on the appropriate is the indigenous Mexican Frida that was adored by her husband,” explains its host, gallerist James Payne.
“The lighter-skinned Frida on the left is the European Frida that he rejected.” Presenting herself within the former trend “despatched a transparent message of cultural id, nationalism, and feminism” — but it surely additionally hid the “damaged physique” that resulted from a bus crash in her youth in addition to varied different bodily issues later in life. This portrait, nevertheless, exposes the center of “Mexican Frida” as a way to present that it “stays intact, sustained by the small portrait of Diego” in her hand.
The center of “European Frida,” nevertheless, is rendered as “disconnected from her beloved Diego,” and it “bleeds profusely onto her gown, a Victorian lace gown much like the one her mom wore.” The 2 Fridas are related by their uncovered hearts by a single artery, one related to the portrait of Rivera. Payne factors out the actual symbolic energy of a bleeding coronary heart, a “basic image of Catholicism” that “will also be seen as symbolic of Aztec ritual sacrifice,” within the case of a culturally conflicted artist equivalent to Kahlo. Looking back, The Two Fridas additionally appears to precise the inevitability of Kahlo and Rivera’s remarriage, which might come the next 12 months. They’d “one of the vital obsessive and tumultuous relationships in artwork historical past,” as Payne places it, however whereas each lived, they knew they couldn’t do with out one another.
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Primarily based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and tradition. His tasks embrace the Substack e-newsletter Books on Cities, the guide The Stateless Metropolis: a Stroll by Twenty first-Century Los Angeles and the video collection The Metropolis in Cinema. Observe him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Fb.