Visiting Mexico City, you can’t help but find Diego Rivera and Frida Khalo splashed around the city. Most have heard of Frida and may even have seen the movie with Salma Hayek titled “Frida”. Her posters grace the kitsch shops in up and coming neighborhoods all over the world almost as a bold statement of deference.
TREND SETTERS IN CASA AZUL
When I visited Casa azul, in what is now a flourishing neighbourhood in Mexico City, with embassies and diplomats lining the streets named after all the European cities, it occurred to me that this neighborhood may not always have been like this. Diego and Frida were trend setters, they were the hosts of the nation rubbing shoulders with famous asylum seekers like Trotsky from the then USSR. The likes of whom she had an affair with when he lived in her house, passing secret notes to each-other in books. He was later brutally murdered in his own house in the same neighborhood as he sat reading.
We are mostly familiar with all her paintings, those portraits that so captivate the viewer. But she struggled on many levels. Her husband was constantly unfaithful, she had several ailments since her childhood, leaving one foot shorter than the other. Eventually she was paralyzed. But through all this, she loved life, and needed to surround herself with beautiful things. Her garden was lovingly arranged, fresh flowers in her room and studio everyday. She dealt with her so called deformities and created her own sense of style, long skirts, elaborate headpieces to shift the focus. Such that everyone forgot. The one thing that she could not overcome was the fact that she could not bear children and this was a recurring haunting theme in her paintings. She constantly longed for a child.
But through all this, she loved life, and needed to surround herself with beautiful things.
You will find her sketches, and bit of her life in this post. The stuff that I love to stumble upon that you don’t normally find in the popular arena. After Frida died, Diego turned the house into a museum and helped to preserve her life to the best of his ability. One of my favorite pieces is the unfinished portrait of herself, showing her pencil marks. How the painting was first thought out.
Some may say she gave birth to many freedoms and visions we see today. No one can ever take away the sense of absence that comes with not being able to bear a child but she lived the most full life she knew how.
Some may say she gave birth to many freedoms and visions we see today.