I was 8 when my mother took me to the first art show I ever saw of Frida Kahlo. I remember the person who guided us around and explained the paintings to us only spoke about pain, and all I could think of was how was it possible to combine all that light and all that pain.

I know when we left I was very confused, very sad. I know I asked my mom what abortion was, and if someone could be heartbroken for their whole life and still live. She said she was sure Frida was happy at some points, but she also told me how I should always remember that sadness is indeed necessary for life

She mentioned how amazing it was that Frida was able to turn all her pain into something so beautiful.

The facts is, when we think of the word “painter”, very many big artists come to our mind. Picasso, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Cézanne, Warhol… All these men  created such amazing work, they’re known worldwide. We’ve all seen a painting from Picasso. We recognize his style. These artists will never die because their art work will keep them alive for generations to come.

There’s only one woman who sneaks inside of the top 100 most important painters of all time. The only name that comes to our minds if we think of female painters. Just because of this, Frida Kahlo deserves our admiration.

But it turns out she’s not just a woman who was good at painting. Kahlo created her own style, that she always defended was not surrealistic, because she wasn’t painting her dreams, she was painting her reality. The strength, the pain, the colors are so characteristic of her, we would never doubt if a painting is hers or not.

Because her work reflects her life, and her life was everything but easy. She faced a terrible disease when she was just 6 years old, poliomyelitis, that left her right leg shorter than the left one and a deformation on her womb that ended up becoming one of her biggest obsessions. She was unable to bear children and suffered from several abortions when trying to pursue her dream of becoming a mother. Her disease didn’t stop her from being a strong and determined student who wanted to become a doctor.

It was when she turned 18 that painting came to her life throughout another traumatic experience, making her abandon her dream of pursuing a medical career. She was ran over by a tram, breaking a couple of her bones and severely damaging her spine. This accident added up to the consequences from her polio, leading her through more than 30 grotesque surgical operations in her short life.

She was bedridden for months, which led to her starting to paint just to kill time. She starts to hang out around some Mexican artists, including Diego Rivera, who soon became her husband and the love of her life. Diego and Frida were a very special couple.

Their marriage was described as “the marriage between an elephant and a dove,” due to the difference on their physical appearance. 

Resultado de imagen de diego and frida

But Diego was known as a big womanizer, and he cheated on her on multiple occasions (although it is known she was not always loyal to him either) leading to an early divorce, not very common among the conservative Mexican society. Just a year later, her and Diego re-married. They constantly influenced each other’s art work and shaped their styles.

Frida was an advocate for women’s right and a left-wing activist, being a member of the communist party. Her work has been celebrated for exploring the questions of race, gender and postcolonialism. Her paintings show Mexican nature and culture. Her famous portraits are known for the importance they have as an exploration of what identity means.

Resultado de imagen de frida PORTRAITS

More importantly, she dedicated her whole life to fighting for the defense of the roots of Mexican popular art. She began dressing with colorful clothes, big jewelry and elaborated hairstyles decorated with flowers, resembling the dressing of the matriarchal society of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, allowing to express both her anti-colonialist and her feminist ideas.

Her poems show another face of Frida. Her words allow us to see that Frida knew how to live too, how to fly, how to love and how to scream freedom, regardless of (or thanks to) all her pain.

She died when she was only 47 years old, after a lung disease and a gangrene that took her right leg. Her pain ended that day, but her legacy will live forever.


“Feet, what do I need them for

If I have wings to fly.”