With one of the most recognisable faces in the world of art, the now-iconic Mexican painter Frida Kahlo has seen her work certified in the annals of contemporary culture history.
Kahlo, the creative who is arguably best known for her many portraits and self-portraits, now has arguably the most distinctive aesthetics in the world of art. Despite passing away in 1957, much of Kahlo’s work remained relatively unknown until the late 1970s when it was discovered by art historians and political activists.
Reflecting on Kahlo’s work, author and British art historian Frances Borzello said: “As with all the best artists, Kahlo’s art is not a diary ingenuously presented in paint but a recreation of personal beliefs, feelings and events through her particular lens into something unique and universal,” in a study of her work.
Kahlo, who had always been recognised as a promising student, was bound for medical school until she was involved in an extremely serious bus collision at the age of 18. The crash, which resulted in a variety of extreme body fractures, also suffered serious internal damage after an iron rod that had pierced her stomach and uterus.
While Kahlo would go on to successfully manoeuvre 8 long months of rehabilitation, a time in which she returned home to focus on the idea of becoming an artist, the injuries she suffered resulted in lifelong medical issues and never-ending pain. Shortly after her recovery, Kahlo would show a keen interest in Kahlo’s interests in politics which led her to join the Mexican Communist Party in 1927 where she would meet fellow Mexican artist Diego Rivera.
Rivera, who quickly became Kahlo’s creative mentor, would spend the next few years travelling to North America before he proposed to marry her. What ensued was a chaotic and dysfunctional relationship in which both artists encountered numerous affairs which included a divorce and subsequent reconciliation in the years that followed.
While the relationship remained somewhat volatile, the twenty-seven-year span was also one of intense romance and creativity. Here, we explore a series of Kahlo’s love letters sent to Rivera which were first published in The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait and later Brain Pickings and Letters of Note.
See the letters, below.
Diego, my love,
Remember that once you finish the fresco we will be together forever once and for all, without arguments or anything, only to love one another.
Behave yourself and do everything that Emmy Lou tells you.
I adore you more than ever. Your girl, Frida
Truth is, so great, that I wouldn’t like to speak, or sleep, or listen, or love. To feel myself trapped, with no fear of blood, outside time and magic, within your own fear, and your great anguish, and within the very beating of your heart. All this madness, if I asked it of you, I know, in your silence, there would be only confusion. I ask you for violence, in the nonsense, and you, you give me grace, your light and your warmth. I’d like to paint you, but there are no colours, because there are so many, in my confusion, the tangible form of my great love.
Nothing compares to your hands, nothing like the green-gold of your eyes. My body is filled with you for days and days. you are the mirror of the night. the violent flash of lightning. the dampness of the earth. The hollow of your armpits is my shelter. my fingers touch your blood. All my joy is to feel life spring from your flower-fountain that mine keeps to fill all the paths of my nerves which are yours.
Auxochrome — Chromophore. Diego.
She who wears the colour.
He who sees the colour.
Since the year 1922.
Until always and forever. Now in 1944. After all the hours lived through. The vectors continue in their original direction. Nothing stops them. With no more knowledge than live emotion. With no other wish than to go on until they meet. Slowly. With great unease, but with the certainty that all is guided by the “golden section.” There is cellular arrangement. There is movement. There is light. All centres are the same. Folly doesn’t exist. We are the same as we were and as we will be. Not counting on idiotic destiny.
Mirror of the night.
Your eyes green swords inside my flesh. waves between our hands.
All of you in a space full of sounds — in the shade and in the light. You were called AUXOCHROME the one who captures colour. I CHROMOPHORE — the one who gives colour.
You are all the combinations of numbers. life. My wish is to understand lines form shades movement. You fulfil and I receive. Your word travels the entirety of space and reaches my cells which are my stars then goes to yours which are my light.
Auxochrome — Chromophore
It was the thirst of many years restrained in our body. Chained words which we could not say except on the lips of dreams. Everything was surrounded by the green miracle of the landscape of your body. Upon your form, the lashes of the flowers responded to my touch, the murmur of streams. There was all manner of fruits in the juice of your lips, the blood of the pomegranate, the horizon of the mammee and the purified pineapple. I pressed you against my breast and the prodigy of your form penetrated all my blood through the tips of my fingers. Smell of oak essence, memories of walnut, green breath of ash tree. Horizon and landscapes = I traced them with a kiss. Oblivion of words will form the exact language for understanding the glances of our closed eyes. = You are here, intangible and you are all the universe which I shape into the space of my room. Your absence springs trembling in the ticking of the clock, in the pulse of light; you breathe through the mirror. From you to my hands, I caress your entire body, and I am with you for a minute and I am with myself for a moment. And my blood is the miracle which runs in the vessels of the air from my heart to yours.
The green miracle of the landscape of my body becomes in your the whole of nature. I fly through it to caress the rounded hills with my fingertips, my hands sink into the shadowy valleys in an urge to possess and I’m enveloped in the embrace of gentle branches, green and cool. I penetrate the sex of the whole earth, her heat chars me and my entire body is rubbed by the freshness of the tender leaves. Their dew is the sweat of an ever-new lover.
It’s not love, or tenderness, or affection, it’s life itself, my life, that I found what I saw it in your hands, in your month and in your breasts. I have the taste of almonds from your lips in my mouth. Our worlds have never gone outside. Only one mountain can know the core of another mountain.
Your presence floats for a moment or two as if wrapping my whole being in an anxious wait for the morning. I notice that I’m with you. At that instant still full of sensations, my hands are sunk in oranges, and my body feels surrounded by your arms.
For my Diego
The silent life giver of worlds, what is most important is the nonillusion. morning breaks, the friendly reds, the big blues, hands full of leaves, noisy birds, fingers in the hair, pigeons’ nests a rare understanding of human struggle simplicity of the senseless song the folly of the wind in my heart = don’t let them rhyme girl = sweet xocolatl [chocolate] of ancient Mexico, storm in the blood that comes in through the mouth — convulsion, omen, laughter and sheer teeth needles of pearl, for some gift on a seventh of July, I ask for it, I get it, I sing, sang, I’ll sing from now on our magic — love.