Frida Kahlo – Columns, Colours and Chronic Pain

The painting left a lasting impression on the depths of my mind, one that I’d perhaps quite forgotten, the same way a haunting piano solo never fails to move me as I remember and sway to its decadent rhythms. The Broken Column by Frida Kahlo is more than just a painting about pain, and more than just a woman in pain painting about pain. It is about what painting does to us all.

Frida Kahlo is the kind of painter that a lot of female artists, myself included, aspire to be. That hard-headed, self-reliant, independent, driven woman that approaches her art as she does every aspect of her life; from her politics to her philosophy, fashion and eventually, a painting on canvas. And yes, she can have a man if she wants, but she doesn’t need one (or maybe she does).

The Broken Column, 1944

The Broken Column is a painting of insight, but also of outward influence. This painting is a deeply intimate portrayal of her struggle; a bus accident in her childhood left her for a time, bedridden, and forever unable to bear children. Frida’s life was sadly cut short at the age of 47, after she endured years of chronic pain, operations, miscarriage, amputation and ultimately, alcohol and medication dependence, not to mention her tumultuous relationship with muralist Diego Rivera. Whilst The Broken Column is undoubtedly a personal piece; we can feel the artist’s shattered insides and feel like we should put our hands to the canvas to put support the crumbling column, it is also a painting of external forces. The artist is in control of the paint colour she chooses, the depth and texture of the canvas, even the way she holds the brush, but ultimately, the painting is out of her control. We are all driven by external forces that dictate what we do, what we say, and much as we try to avoid these external chess moves, we are all dictated by them.

We all have our own Broken Column, a piece of us that may be a little more fragile than we let on, a deep rooted fear that prevents us from taking a leap off the edge, whether figuratively or literally. Many of us have an unseen column, a disability we haven’t shared, a poem we haven’t shared or a story we never dared tell.

“I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.” Frida Kahlo

 

Reflections

2016 is almost upon us, and it’s been an eventful year, to say the least. I thought I’d share with you some of the artistic highlights and other happenings of the year.

Firstly, I got a step closer to owning my own home. Now all that remains is to create some brand new paintings to brighten up the walls. Commissioning yourself to paint permanent artworks for your own walls…trickier than one might expect.

I embarked on some new painting projects, though admittedly my production rate was somewhat slower than previous years. However, I did complete my biggest project to date:

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The Artists Lodge, A Painted Maltese Door, 2015

I also had a collective exhibition which was featured on local news, and created a series of Arctic and Antarctic inspired works:

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Season of Change, 2015

But it seems that at various points during the year, I lost my way artistically and since then have been taking a step back and re-evaluating where I want to go. This process, surprisingly, has lead me to re-work some existing paintings instead of plunging ahead with new works. I like this back-tracking; I think it helps put things into perspective.

This was the first painting of the year, Axolotl:

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Axolotl, 2015

It’s cute and slightly odd at the same time, but provokes questions from people who have never heard of or seen such a creature, which I like.

Perhaps my artistic stumbling block came as I was struggling with the pain and stress of endometriosis, with which I was diagnosed back in March. I’m learning to take this in my stride as much as possible, but it’s been an interesting adaptation. Thankfully I managed to sign what I can presume to be the last painting of the year, which is a re-work of a 2014 piece that I’ll talk about it my next blog.

I personally hope that next year will be brighter not for me but for all those who are currently suffering in the midst of civil war, terrorism and poverty. Topics which I think I’ll be tackling on canvas next year.

Thanks for following.

To find out more about commissioning a painting or to enquire about specific paintings for sale send me a message through my Facebook Page or take a look through at my website: cjwaterfieldart.com