Frida Kahlo: irreverent and subversive

Art was the alternative to face his tragedy, but it was also the sphere of influence, a corollary of his introspective visions, defiant before a destiny as convulsive and delirious as his.

From paradox to paradox her life can be summed up, promoted from the enormous pictorial, political and intellectual talent that made her worthy of a freedom without borders and a particular lucidity. She recruited all her enigmas and with them she gave the magic of her painting became more and more alive and pleasurable in the universe of her links with her artistic consciousness and her attitude towards an unsought existentialism.

In his art, the option of ghosts and angels is not a contrast, but the configuration of a destiny that is tragic and sublime at the same time. Perhaps Hegel explains it best by stating that “destiny is the consciousness of the self, but of an enemy self.”

Behind the facade of his figure is the metamorphosis of pain and passion that becomes evocation and dream.

Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderón, was born on July 6, 1907, in the thriving colony called Coyoacán, where the house of Hernán Cortés still exists, where León Trotsky lived, who was her lover after she had married the great and immortal painter and muralist Diego Rivera. In Coyoacán she also lived part of her life Octavio Paz, Cervantes Prize (1981) and Nobel Prize for Literature (1990).

Frida Kahlo was the daughter of Guillermo Kahlo (Wilhelm) born in Baden-Baden, Germany, in 1872, son of Jakob Heinrich Kahlo and Henriette Kaufmann Kahlo, Hungarian Jews, and Matilde Calderón y González, born in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 1876, daughter of Isabel González y González, of Spanish origin, and Antonio Calderón, of Indian origin.

Frida Kahlo’s father wanted her to bear the German name. The parish priest frowned and the father insisted on the priest, to whom he said: “Write it the Spanish way, if you prefer, give it five names of saints first, if necessary, Mr. Priest… Friede, in German, means peace. It’s a nice name, you know. It is phonetically strong and anyone would dream of its content. It’s okay to have a name that has meaning. There are countries, and this is written in some books, where it is said that the name determines the personality. If we do not have the means here to verify the accuracy of these considerations, nothing prevents us from thinking that they may be true.

The little girl would be called Magdalena Carmen Frida. The first two names for baptismal font reasons, the third for life.

Frida Kahlo pointed out on many occasions that she changed her date of birth to July 7, 1910. And once she wrote regarding the contradictions that arose between her biographers, the following: “I was born with a revolution. Let it be known, with that fire I was born, carried by the impetus of the revolt until the moment of seeing the day. The day was hot. It inflamed me for the rest of my life. It was summer. Soon, Emiliano Zapata, the Great Insurgent, was going to revolt the South. I was lucky: 1910 is my date”.

Two months after her birth, Doña Matilde became pregnant and, eleven months later, Cristina was born, with whom Frida got along very well. As a child, Frida was entrusted to an Indian mistress, who spoke little of her but who sang songs from her land. The mistress’s skin “was brown like Frida’s white, and her character was as calm as the girl’s impetuous.”

When Frida Kahlo’s father arrived in Mexico, through the port of Veracruz and settled in Oaxaca, he married a Mexican woman in 1894 who died in childbirth, when her second daughter was born. Some time later, Don Guillermo would meet Doña Matilde Calderón at the La Perla jewelry store, where they were both employees. Matilde was in mourning for the death of her boyfriend, also of German origin, who had committed suicide before her eyes. Don Guillermo and Doña Matilde married in 1898.

At the beginning of the century, Wilhelm Kahlo settled in Mexico City where he immediately found work as a cashier at the Loeb glassware. He would later work in a bookstore and, some time later, he would dedicate himself to photography, coming to completely dominate the trade. To give more prominence to the profession of his father, Frida, he wrote in his time: “The father-in-law lent him a camera and the first thing they did was go on a tour of the Republic. They achieved a collection of photos of indigenous and colonial architecture and returned, installing the first office on 16 de Septiembre avenue, which is saying a lot!” Frida’s father was also a pianist, but he was never interested in belonging to any Symphony.

On September 17, 1925, Frida suffered a spectacular accident between a little train from Xochimilco and a bus. That day, she enjoyed the company of her boyfriend Alejandro Gómez Arias. In the accident, several people were injured and some died. Frida, who was seriously injured, was rescued by Alejandro naked, covered in blood and gold that tinged her dancer’s dress. Alejandro carried her in her arms to a pool table where, together with other people, he tore a piece of iron from her body that went through her.

Alejandro Gómez Arias affirms: “When it was removed, Frida screamed so loud that the siren of the Red Cross ambulance was not heard when it arrived.” Frida Kahlo later wrote: “Matilde read the news in the newspapers and was the first to arrive and did not leave me for three months; day and night by my side. My mother was shocked for a month and she didn’t come to see me. When my sister Adriana found out, she fainted. It caused my father so much sadness that he fell ill and I was only able to see him after twenty days.” To add: “It was Matilde who lifted my spirits: she told me funny jokes. She was fat and ugly, but she had a great sense of humor and she made all of us in the room laugh. She knitted and she helped the nurse in the care of the sick”.

Three months he remained in the hospital. There she wrote several letters to Alejandro, which he never answered. On December 5, 1925, she Frida will write: “the only good thing I have is that I am beginning to get used to suffering”. On October 17 of that same year, she was discharged, condemned to remain in bed for a long time and suffer the worst of her suffering. In the fall of that year, she wrote to Alejandro: “You can’t have any idea of ​​the pain I feel, every movement triggers liters of tears.” Even after she recovered, she continued to write to Alejandro and wept over his absence. She felt for him an excessive love that consumed her along with her physical pain.

The emotional and physical pain was so strong that he wrote: “My body is a mess. I can’t escape him. Like an animal that feels his death, I feel that mine settles in my life with such force that it deprives me of any possibility of fighting. They don’t believe me, because they’ve seen me struggle so much. I dare not believe that I could be wrong; that kind of lightning is scarce… My body will abandon me, me, who was always its prey. Rebel prey, but prey. I know that we are going to annihilate each other, so the fight will have no winner. Vain and permanent illusion to believe that thought, because it is intact, can free itself from that other matter made flesh… Life is cruel when it is cruel to me in this way. He should have distributed his cards better. I had too bad a game. A black tarot on the body… Life is cruel for inventing memory. Like old people who cover their oldest memories with nuances, on the verge of death, my memory gravitates around the sun and how it illuminates! Everything is present, nothing has been lost.