The Pain of Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo was in pain much of her life — from polio when she was young, from a bad trolley accident when she was in her adolescence. (See Wikipedia article below).
Similar to her contemporary Remedios Varo, she died early in her artistic career, at the age of forty-seven. The official cause of death of “pulmonary embolism”, but no autopsy was performed. Based on these red, raw watermelons, I have to wonder if she also had heart problems, i.e, congestive heart failure.
Paradoxically the title of the last painting is “Viva la Vida” (“Live the Life”), — it is as if there is a compensatory attempt, a “flight into health”, from her imminent death. And, similar to Ms. Varo, her final painting was of plant life, of ripened fruit.
Frida Kahlo de Rivera (July 6, 1907 – July 13, 1954) was a Mexican painter, born in Coyoacán. Perhaps best known for her self-portraits, Kahlo’s work is remembered for its “pain and passion”, and its intense, vibrant colors. Her work has been celebrated in Mexico as emblematic of national and indigenous tradition, and by feminists for its uncompromising depiction of the female experience and form….
On September 17, 1925, Kahlo was riding in a bus when the vehicle collided with a trolley car. She suffered serious injuries in the accident, including a broken spinal column, a broken collarbone, broken ribs, a broken pelvis, eleven fractures in her right leg, a crushed and dislocated right foot, and a dislocated shoulder. An iron handrail pierced her abdomen and her uterus, which seriously damaged her reproductive ability.
Although she recovered from her injuries and eventually regained her ability to walk, she was plagued by relapses of extreme pain for the remainder of her life. The pain was intense and often left her confined to a hospital or bedridden for months at a time. She underwent as many as thirty-five operations as a result of the accident, mainly on her back, her right leg and her right foot.