Feet, why do I need them if I have wings to fly?
In this world, the most accomplished artists are those who have tasted defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and climbed their way out of deep pits of despair. Adversity brings out the best in an artist. It helps them develop deep sensitivity and a keen understanding of life and its goings on.
Art becomes a vehicle for venting their pain. If they are able to connect to others through their art it’s because they have experienced the darkest side of life and also because they now want to move away from that pain. They need healing, deliverance, equilibrium, balance, restoration, and mending, all of which is possible through art.
Great art speaks not just to the person in pain but it also gives him the inspiration to transit beyond it. Although all art forms are triggered by pain, they are propagators of pain. On the contrary, they help you manage your painful state better. Art for these people becomes a healing, transformative experience. At least that was the case with Frida Kahlo, played to the hilt for Mexican actress Salma Hayek in the classic Hollywood movie Frida (2002).
Born in 1907, Frida Kahlo, was inspired by two unrelated events in her life – her crippling spinal injury and her marriage to a philander-husband, Diego María, a celebrated painter in his own right, who she was madly in love with. The only issue was that Diego was in love with himself, more than he loved Frida, so had a string of affairs that she would stumble upon, during the course of their tumultuous marriage. Her life undoubtedly was plagued by obstacles but nothing could hold her back from her artwork.
In several different ways, Kahlo was an incredibly amazing woman. She labored under pain, humiliation, love and suffering but she endured. She ploughed back all her emotions into her canvas. Her work was mostly self-portraits. She once said, “I paint myself because I am the person I know best. I paint my own reality.”
As a child, Frida got afflicted with polio that left her a cripple for life. As a teenager, she met with a freak train accident that inflected permanent injuries to her ribs, spine and pelvis. She survived, but had to spend a year in bed, enduring intense pain that remained with her for the rest of her life.
She had to keep herself occupied while lying prone in her bed, so her family propped up a mirror above her bed. That’s how she began to paint – pictures of herself! This work is striking and revealing – it was as if she bared her soul to her canvas. It gave her not just escapism but also an inspiration to face up the harsh realities of life.
When you look at her self-portraits, you spot not just shades of a woman who has seen too much of the world, but also one who has seen too little and longs for a life that can’t be – a life with fewer cares, where she can laugh, be funny, be playful, and forget the miseries and misfortunes that were an integral part of her life…..
Wasn’t it Frida, who had once said, “At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can?”
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