Today I travel to Mexico, to join the Great Mexican Painter Frida Kahlo. My aircraft is Martha Zamora’s compilation of Frida Kahlo’s letters, Cartas Apasionadas, published in 1995 by Chronicle Books in San Francisco, USA.
The painter was born in 1907 in Coyoacan, a borough of the Federal District of Mexico City as Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón.
I started painting twelve years ago while I was recovering from an automobile accident that kept me in bed for nearly a year. In all these years, I’ve always worked with the spontaneous impulse of my feeling. I’ve never followed any school or anybody’s influence; I have never expected anything from my work but the satisfaction I could get from it by the very fact of painting and saying what I couldn’t say otherwise. (Letter to Carlos Chavez, 1939).
In 1925 Frida has a horrible accident while riding a bus.
The only good thing is that I’m starting to get used to suffering. (Letter to Alejandro Gomez Arias, December 5, 1925).
A short while ago, maybe a few days ago, I was a girl walking in a world of colors, of clear and tangible shapes. .. If you knew how terrible it is to attain knowledge all of a sudden – like lightning elucidating the earth! Now I live on a painful planet, transparent as ice…I grew old in a few instants and now everything is dull and flat. I know there is nothing behind; if there were something I would see it. (Letter to Alejandro Gomez Arias, September 1926).
In 1929 Frida got married to the Mexican painter Diego Rivera. Their marriage hits the rocks quickly, as Diego is irreversibly unfaithfull. In 1934 Diego has an affair with Frida’s sister, Cristina. Frida is devastated.
First, it is a double disgrace, if I can explain it like that. You know better than anyone what Diego means to me in all senses, and on the other hand, she was the sister whom I loved the most and whom I tried to help as much as I could; that’s why the situation became horribly complicated and it is getting worse every day… My situation seems so ridiculous and stupid to me that you can’t imagine how I dislike and hate myself. I’ve lost my best years being supported by a man, doing nothing but what I thought would benefit and help him. I never thought about myself, and after six years, his answer is that fidelity is a bourgeois virtue and that it exists only to exploit (people) and to obtain an economic gain. (Letter to Ella and Bertram Wolfe, October 18, 1934).
Even if we experience endless adventures, cracks in the doors, “mentions” of our mothers (the mentioning of one’s mother is considered to be very insulting in Mexico), and international complaints, don’t we always love each other? … All this anger has simply made me understand better that I love you more than my own skin, and that even though you don’t love me as much, you love me a little anyway – don’t you? If this is not true, I’ll always be hopeful that it could be, and that’s enough for me… Love me a little …. I adore you … Frieda (Letter to Diego Rivera, July 1935).
Diego has also been sick, but now he is almost well. He is working as usual, a lot and well. He is a little fatter; he is eating a lot and is as talkative as usual. He sleeps in the bathtub, reads the newspapers while on the toilet, and spends hours playing wiht Don Fulang Chang (pet monkey), for whom he already found a partner. (Letter to Ella Wolfe, 1938).
Well child, let me thank you for your letter and for being so nice as to ask me about Diego’s shirts. I’m sorry for not being able to give you the sizes you asked for, but no matter how much I look inside the collar, I can’t even find a clue of what could be a number indicating the thickness of Don Diego Rivera y Barriento’s neck. So, I think it would be best to tell Martin to please buy six of the largest shirts that New York has, that is, if this letter gets to you in time, which I doubt very much. Get the kind (of shirts) that seem almost impossible to be made for a person, i.e the largest on this planet, commonly referred to as the Earth. (Letter to Ella Wolfe, 1938).
Now I will tell you some things about myself. I haven’t changed very much since you saw me last. Only I wear again my crazy mexican dress, my hair grew longer again, and I am as skinny as always. My character hasn’t changed either, I am as lazy as always, without enthusiasm for any thing, quite stupid, and damn sentimental, some times I think that this is bacause I am sick, but of course that is only a very good pretext. I could paint as long as long as I wish, I could read or study or do many things inspite of my bad foot and other bad things, but, there is the point, I live on the air, accepting things as they come, without the minor effort to change them, and all day long I feel sleepy, tired and desperated. (Letter to Lucienne Bloch, February 1938).
My child, I really should not complain about anything that happens to me in life, so long as you love me and I love you. (This love) is so real and beautiful that it makes me forget even distance. .. I don’t have the words to describe how happy I am, knowing that you tried to make me happy and that you are so good and adorable… My lover, my heaven, my Nick, my life, my child, I adore you. .. Don’t make love to anyone, if you can help it. Do it only in case you find a real F. W. (fucking wonder), but don’t fall in love. .. Oh, my dear Nick, I adore you so much. I need you so much that that my heart burns. (Letter to Nickolas Muray, February 1939).
Excerpt from a Poem to Lina and Arcady Boytler
I am leaving my portrait to you
so you’ll have me in front of you
every day and every night
in which I am far away from you.
Sadness is portrayed
in my whole work,
but that’s my condition;
I am hopeless.