To Frida, With Love! (Photo Credit: Chrysanthemum Chronicles)
An icon, a cult figure, or an archetype of art? Who was this slip of a girl in the early 20th Century who brought Mexico to centre stage in the world and has been creating hysteria ever since? What did she portray so vehemently that propelled her to stardom and secured her place at the very heights of the art fraternity? What is her legacy? To understand the magnitude of her art, one has to unravel the emotional and cerebral process of the persona and look deep into a life that was tortuous, times that were changing and history that was in the making. Highly autobiographical, Frida Kahlo's 143 known paintings were intellectual, turbulent and explicit. The leitmotif of her work was love, life and loss in a Mexico in flux politically, socially and culturally. Sexuality, maternity, infidelity and gender equality are strong statements in her work. Her art is radical in its representation of women and their role in society, a shocking travesty at a time when feminine depiction in art was a celebration of beauty and chastity.
Born around the Mexican revolution, Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderón belonged to the intellectual and political sections that embraced greatness easily. But it was the story of a young girl's life and the continuing incidents of trauma and torment that shaped the mature Frida. And in her art she poured out every anguish and agony she witnessed or was subject to. But Frida's work did not simply depict the pain she was undergoing. She transcended that pain and transformed her realities. Frida's superhuman qualities of forbearance and survival shine brilliantly in her work. Her strength and fortitude are the lasting statements. Her vibrancy and zest for life are portrayed vividly. Nature as a life force is inherent in her paintings, as is the Mexican landscape. Closeted and incapacitated as she was, her mind surged ahead and through valiant strokes of paint she asserted who she was - a fascinating phenomenon whose fame and legend transcended the borders and the century timeline and ricocheted into the present art scenario. Her artistic techniques were a combination of surrealism, magical realism, symbolism and indigenous Mexican styles. Sixty years after her premature death at 47, Frida's charisma is soaring evermore and her enigma deepens. Kahlo's self-portrait painting Diego y yo (Diego and I) sold for $34.9 million at Sotheby's Modern Evening Sale on November 19, 2021 amidst a pandemic stricken world - making it the most expensive piece of Latin American art. She is possibly the most important female artist of the 20th Century. The portrait depicts a glassy-eyed Frida staring at life as it were, with her artist husband Diego Rivera imprinted on her forehead with three eyes. “Tonight's outstanding result further secures (Frida Kahlo's) place in the auction echelon she belongs, as one of the true titans of 20th-century art,” says Julian Dawes, Sotheby's co-head of Impressionist and Modern Art in New York.
This book is a searing tribute to the passion and purpose of Frida Kahlo. The Chrysanthemum Chronicles Publications House held a unique literary competition on Facebook on Frida Kahlo's legacy. The inspired event was a brainchild of Founder, Director and Publisher of Chrysanthemum Chronicles, Monalisa Joshi. This book is a collection of the best vignettes of the contest. Eight contemporary published authors have penned their emotional responses to the mystery and mystique of Frida Kahlo. Some of her paintings have been taken as inspiration by the writers to create the vignettes which are more like candid conversation between Frida and her canvas. The flow of words is directly from each writer’s heart and will take you to the world of Frida and her era with ease. A must read for all; this chapbook will keep you hooked till its very end. A book with a difference this is a tribute to ‘Frida Kahlo’ by some of the contemporary women writers who felt that they were actually there in her shoes, mind, body and soul while penning down their thoughts for this book.