February 13, 2007

Malka Drucker on Frida Kahlo

Kahlo

The nightmarish accident was only the beginning of a lifelong battle with perations, crude corsets, infections, amputation, and eventually death. It was also the beginning of a remarkable series of paintings about pain and femininity, which sometimes became one and the same. In her art she reinvented herself freely again and again as saint, goddess, man, deer. If the purpose of art is to provide what life cannot, then maybe these stoic impersonations were ultimately a solution to pain. (Drucker, x)

Mexican culture accepts, even embraces, the magical or surreal. Life and death are closely linked in agricultural societies; fresh green shoots are part of the dying tree from which they emerge, so death, therefore, is not ugly. (Drucker, 25).

Judas

Frida who had always loved Dia de los Muertos, now embraced its customs for new purposes. She didn’t want death, or her fear of it, to take away her laughter or joy in life, so she dressed cardboard skeletons in her clothes, cal;led death by insulting nicknames, and had a skull painted with her name on it, all in an effort to defy suffering and death. Giant Judas [...] figures also took on fresh meaning for Frida. The huge papier-mâché puppets, lined with fireworks, usually in the form of the devil or skeleton to represent sin and death, are part of the celebration of Saturday of Glory, which falls on the Saturday before Easter. As despised enemies the figures are exploded in the town square to boisterous cheers, and in the year following her accident, Frida cheered loudest of all (29)


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