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The historical and/or cultural context of artists may affect the way they analyse and explore aesthetic qualities and how they communicate ideas and meanings through their artworks. Analyse this statement referring to two artists that you have studied this year and their work.

Spanish, traditional artist Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderon, simply known as Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) and Australian, contemporary artist Peter Booth (1940- ) are two artists who produced works in different historical and cultural contexts.

Growing up and spending most of her life in Mexico, Kahlo was heavily influenced by traditional Mexican painting styles, which she used to express her inner feelings and emotions, revealing the pain and suffering she experienced. Kahlo represented her different personalities through the use of Mexican and European culture. Kahlo has been recognised as a surrealistic painter, although at the time she was unaware that this style existed. Unlike Kahlo, Booth’s work was impacted by vast industrial landscapes in his hometown, Sheffield, England, and the bombing sites of World War II, which he portrayed through the use of expressionism. Although Booth did not experience war first-hand, he took interest and viewed it through media and was influenced by footage of the Vietnam War in the 1970’s and the Bosnian War in the 1990’s.

Events that affected Kahlo and Booth, and life experiences became each artist’s subject matter. These influences also affected their artwork, work practices and the development of their works’ aesthetic qualities. Both artists developed distinctive styles that communicated to viewers their feelings, thoughts and fantasies about the world around them and the events that occurred in their lives.

Kahlo and Booth did not share many similarities; however both artists suffered from inner emotional turmoil, which they tried to depict in their images and communicate with viewers. Kahlo was more influenced by how surrounding events impacted on her life, whereas Booth was concerned about the environment and how society and his own life would be affected.

Kahlo’s ‘The Two Frida’s’ (1939, oil on canvas) and Booth’s ‘Painting 1977’ (1977, oil on canvas) are two paintings that symbolise each artists desire to reflect on their depressed state of mind and lack of hope.

‘The Two Frida’s’ depicts a contrast of Kahlo’s emotional and cultural conflicts, however both features have the same distinctive facial features: dark hair, red lips, and characteristic eyebrow. Kahlo’s dual identity as a woman with both European and Mexican origins was often a regular feature in her paintings, particularly in The Two Frida’s. Kahlo represented her physical and motional pain through the exposed hearts on both women in the painting. At the time of this painting, Kahlo was separated from her husband Diego Rivera, and was feeling heartbroken, as represented in the painting. The grey dull, background appears to signal an oncoming storm and contributes to a feeling of emptiness. The mixture of warm and cool colours have been used to create emphasis and balance. In this composition. The red is the most dominant colour, used to represent blood and all the heartache and pain that Kahlo has experienced. The blue, gold and brown on the Mexican outfit contrast against the white clothing of the European outfit, and it is this contrast that creates balance in the composition. Technique?

Like Kahlo, Booth’s ‘Painting 1977’ communicates his feelings and emotions in an expressive manner. Depression and a lack of hope are represented in Painting 1977, through the use of a man and a dog in an apocalyptic landscape. Like Kahlo, Booth used his dreams, negative emotions and past experiences to capture a nightmarish, dream like quality in this painting. The man and the dog are the focus point in this composition; however the surrounding landscape also plays a significant role in the interpretation of Booth’s subject...
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