On July 6th, 1907, Matilde gave birth to a beautiful being who was yet to become the grandest feminist icon in history.
Born Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón, she became one of Mexico’s greatest painters.
Kahlo contracted polio at the age of 6, had an almost deadly accident at the age of 18 and went on to marry Diego Rivera, the muralist and ultimate womanizer.
People who are close to me know the immense place that Frida holds in my heart and in my life. For me, she represents the pain every woman on earth is going through—be it physical, or emotional. Frida has proved to us how strong we can be and how much we can endure.
I empathize with the pain she went through. She suffered from the pain of infidelity. Diego, her comrade, her best friend and the first critic of her art, was never her husband or ‘hers’–-as Frida says. He belonged to many women and mostly he belonged to himself only. This—in return—sent Frida through endless, dire suffering that only the pages of her diary witnessed.
When it comes to art, I am fond of many artists. But never before have I witnessed emotions and thoughts expressed so bluntly and poignantly on a canvas. Not only does Kahlo’s art fascinate me, but also her words. Reading what she said, we can sense the intensity of her agony, yet, at the same time, the greatness of her hope.
Having said that, we can say that Frida is an icon of patience, endurance and strength:
“Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?”
“There have been two great accidents in my life. One was the trolley, and the other was Diego. Diego was by far the worst.”
“I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best.”
“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me, too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.”
“You didn’t understand what I am. I am love. I am pleasure. I am essence. I am an idiot. I am alcoholic. I am tenacious. I am. I simply am. You are a sh*t my love.”
“They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn’t. I never painted dreams. I paint my own reality.”
“Nothing is absolute. Everything changes, everything moves, everything revolves, everything flies and goes away.”
“I drank because I wanted to drown my sorrows, but now the damned things have learned to swim.”
“I am not sick. I am broken. But I am happy to be alive as long as I can paint.”
“I think that little by little I’ll be able to solve my problems and survive.”
“At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.”
“I love you more than my own skin.”
“How can I call him my Diego? He never was and never will be mine, he only belongs to himself.”
“Nothing is worth more than laughter. It is strength to laugh and to abandon oneself, to be light.”
“Take a lover who looks at you like maybe you are magic.” ~ Marty McConnel (about Frida Kahlo)
“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.”
“I cannot speak of Diego as my husband because that term, when applied to him, is an absurdity. He never has been, nor will he ever be, anybody’s husband.”
“I leave you my portrait so that you will have my presence all the days and nights that I am away from you.”
“I want to be inside your darkest everything.”
“I hope the exit is joyful and I hope never to return.”
“… and I hope never to return.” Written on the last pages of her diary, Frida bluntly affirms she has no intentions of reincarnating in another lifetime. Her pain was too great to want to experience physical life again. She physically left Diego, her lovers and her friends. But up until today, Frida is still here. She lives in every painting of hers, in every portrait hung on the wall. She lives in the spirit of every woman who is going through miscarriage, physical pain and emotional difficulties.
Frida gives us the hope that we will overcome any calamity we might face. She tells us to laugh, to love hard, to survive no matter what. Frida shows us the importance of drinking tequila, lighting a cigarette and living as if we are dying tomorrow.
Frida kahlo, a woman, an icon, forever in our hearts.
Viva La Frida!
Author: Elyane Youssef
Editor: Caitlin Oriel
Image: Maria de Oro/Flickr