As we dig deeper into the inner workings of Frida Kahlo’s mind and life – I can’t help but wonder about the underpinnings of her work that speak to Frida as a spiritualist. While coming out of the shadow of being “Diego Rivera’s Wife” and into the path of Frida as artist – the surrealist movement was bubbling. The male European Surrealists, particularly founder Andre Breton, wanted to Frida to join in on the surrealist society. To which she famously commented: “They thought I was a surrealist, but I wasn’t. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.”
Now, while she herself didn’t consider herself to be a surrealist, there were themes of Frida’s work that feel into the belly of what the surrealist movement was all about. There was the symbolism, the dream-state like quality to her work. The haunting thing was that her work was her truly reality and a peak into her unconscious mind. See, the Surrealist Manifesto, written in 1924, stated that the movement was interested in fostering “pure psychic automatism through which it is intended to express…the true functioning of thought. Thought dictated in the absence of all control exerted by reason, and outside any aesthetic or moral preoccupation.” Now if we take a look at automatism as an art practice, it’s no different than channeled writing a la Abraham Hicks, Bashar or A Course in Miracles. It’s sacred practice that many of us can tap into if we chose to. With all the surrealism shit aside, I do believe Frida’s advanced level of magic allowed her to pull from this unconscious place to share the agonizing reality of her physical and psychic pain.
The elements of her symbolism strike me as someone with a heightened awareness of the non-physical world. She wasn’t shy in creating devotional works in the style of traditional Mexican Ex-voto or Retablo paintings (“My Birth”, 1932). She used Aztec symbolism in pieces like the “The Little Deer”. And coming across celestial elements in her work was not rare finding. She understood the subtleties of a transcendental reality even in the face of her physical pain. Maybe that is why she did not want to come back, she knew that her physical body was just holding her captive in this lifetime, stuck on Earth. “Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?”
If there is one thing that Frida Kahlo was – she was a bruja. Even if it was unconsciously, she understood her innate power of her truth and was able to channel her magic through her body of work and personal adornment so acutely and so publicly that after all of these years, we still can’t seem to rid her from our consciousness. Or was that merely by design?
I hope that you’ve enjoyed the second installment of the Frida: Digging Deeper Photo Series, please feel free to reach me with any comments, thoughts, feedback in the comments below or shoot me an email at info (at) lalanyc.com. I want this to be a safe space for perspective, discussion and dialogue. <3