Women of Influence Part 1-The Frida Effect

4 Jul

I was coming to the end of A Level art in 1999. Our last piece of coursework was the personal study.

Struggling to find a starting point my Art teacher suggested I look at the self portraits of Frida Kahlo.

It has only just dawned on me that she could have been (in a round about way) telling me to take a long, hard look at myself (Cheers Morag!)

To use yourself as a subject was an interesting concept. To look at yourself in a subjective way had a profound effect on me. To begin with I couldn’t get my head around it. To my 18-year-old mind she was ugly, why would you paint yourself like that?

However the more I read and the more I looked, the more I came to love and admire her and her work.

A woman who had more than her fair share of misfortune and tragedy. The way she depicted herself was unflinching, uncompromising and often uncomfortably graphic. Kahlo does not ask for pity.  She just shows it how it is, in a strangely detached way. A surrealist realist, her style is naive yet knowing and attached and detached all at the same time.

She was her own woman.

Kahlo was also extraordinarily beautiful, particularly when dressed in traditional Mexican costume.  She was beautiful because of her eyebrows and facial hair, not in spite of it.  Exotic, feminine and mysterious. She looks out of her self portraits with a direct gaze, challenging and proud and dignified.

To try to form a self-portrait project using Kahlo as inspiration was a big ask. The woman made a career out of understanding who she was and forming an identity. Her portraits are like a maths problem, showing her workings out.

It is not about the final answer but how you get there.

It is the  journey that is interesting, not final destination.


2 Responses to “Women of Influence Part 1-The Frida Effect”

  1. Clare Philpott July 5, 2013 at 12:54 pm #

    That was very deep Hannah 🙂

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