Thursday, March 13, 2008

To Be Clear

I like Frida Kahlo's work. To look at it is to see through the eyes of a woman who spent a lot of time in pain after a near fatal bus accident at age 18, time alone waiting for Diego Rivera to finish his day, time thinking. She was an outspoken woman, lover of men and women and tequila and cigarettes, painter of revealing self-portraits as she saw herself in the mirror attached to the ceiling of her four-poster bed. Yet Diego, muralist for the people, would receive more attention for his art while they were alive.

Frida would leave Mexico, to return. She and Diego would live together. And separately. They would divorce and remarry. After her death she would become an icon with Madonna taking her on and buying her paintings. Julie Taymor would make a movie about the "love story" between the pair. People would watch and admire. There would be parts missing, like the part where the two go from being Trotskyists to Stalinists, how Frida's former lover and Diego's estranged friend Leon Trotsky was assassinated on Stalin's orders blocks from La Casa Azul. There would be people who would wonder how Frida and Diego could have supported Stalin. There would be people who would choose not to be bothered by this fact, it easier this way.

Some people might argue that heroes do not or should not exist. And they might be right. Frida is not my hero. She was a woman who loved and painted and sorrowed. I appreciate her for this.

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