What Frida Kahlo’s Art Teaches Us

abstract painting

Take a trip to an art museum in any city or town, and you will be sent through colorful mazes of paintings. The framed masterpieces are meant to be enjoyed and marveled upon. The iconic works hold a magical power to inspire and teach in metaphorical ways.

But what is it exactly that our beloved painters are trying to tell us? What does each of their creative behaviors and styles reveal to us?

Art is freedom.

It is the ability to create without limits or rules. It is the ability to choose the way in which a canvas gets manipulated and a scene is constructed. It is up to the artist, their mind, heart, soul, and their overworked hands. It is different than the world because the artist is in control of everything. It is them and a paintbrush, everything surrounding switches off, fading, melting away.

Art knows no boundaries. There are no fences or walls. It is a power anyone can have within them. It is almost like a muscle that simply must be exercised. Just like the heartbeat that lives within us.

Paintings, drawings, sculptures, collages, and more can be crafted by astronauts, heart surgeons, lawyers, grocery store cashiers, forensic scientists, and more.

All artists are born with their own strengths and have endured life’s successes and struggles in a variety of ways. Still, they pursued the artistic path and found themselves on top of the painting world. Surely, it was based on their captivating talent, but it might also be linked to the subtle lessons incorporated into their work, in which people began catching on.

Frida Kahlo is just one example.

“I don’t paint dreams or nightmares, I paint my own reality.” – Frida Kahlo


*Image from London (website)

Frida Kahlo lived an artful life superimposed with tragedy. At age 6, Frida was diagnosed with her first disease. Polio affected the physical features of her leg and foot, spawning bullying from peers. Much older, a bus crash caused numerous broken bones, an iron rail piercing and puncturing through her skin. In effect, infertility was her next obstacle to tackle, followed by several miscarriages. Her rocky love life with Diego Rivera created more emotional turmoil.

It was these tragedies in which she painted. She used the events as sheer inspiration, representing the real and raw from her life, that we as admirers can greatly learn from.

Art can be as real as we want it to be. It can also be as metaphorical as we choose too. For Frida, it was therapeutic and represented the true emotions and conflicts her world had spiraled into. In many ways she was a realist.

Scenes and images do not always have to represent or stand for something unseen. In self-portraits, Frida portrayed herself with accuracy, the contributing factor to her success and the frequency of other artists creating their own portraits and interpretations of her. Her work was able to make people feel harsh emotion and sense the feelings Frida felt.


*Image from The New Yorker

Frida allowed her work to speak a million words. She allowed those masterpieces to “accept” who she was, making her most relatable and vulnerable all at the same time. In her 1932 painting, “Henry Ford Hospital,” Frida explicitly illustrated her body. Her emotions ran too high to hold back her infertility trauma. She lie on the bed with strings pulling and tugging organs from her body, taking away a part of her, taking a way a portion of her hopes, dreams, and future. It all seemed to be crumbling and fading.

As a woman, certain organs are important for our beings and our intended purpose. Many females strive to use the organs, while others have no intention. Still, our reproductive organs are important to us, physically and emotionally. But Frida’s infertility problems corrupted this for her.


*Image from Frida Kahlo (official website)

“I don’t paint dreams or nightmares, I paint my own reality.” – Frida Kahlo

Frida’s reality was cruel, her paintings resembled that. She was truthful as a human being as well as an artist. She painted what she knew, what she experienced, all the hardships and struggles that tunneled toward her.

Art can be as real as we want it.

Art does not always have to be metaphorical.

Like Frida’s work, it can be honest, real, and raw.

Sometimes it is okay to throw away those metaphors.

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