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Las Dos Fridas (The Two Fridas) - Frida Kahlo painting analysis/essay

By mpreq Jan 11, 2014 624 Words
Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo Calderón, or Frida Kahlo, was a painter born in Mexico in 1907 and died in 1954. Her father was German and her mother was Mexican Indian. From her childhood, she was diagnosed with polio, a disease that infects the spine, and the disease left her right leg distorted. At 18, returning from her art school, the bus she was riding in hit a tram and an iron bar pierced her abdomen/pelvis area. Her legs and vertebrae suffered serious damage. The accident was a turning point in her life. In her hospital bed, she installed a mirror above her bed. She painted many works, most of which were self-portraits. In 1928, Frida met Diego Rivera, whom she married a year later. She could not have children with him because of the accident.

Frida was a huge part of the surrealism movement, and a good example of this would be her painting, “Las Dos Fridas” (“The Two Fridas”). This work was painted in 1939, shortly after her divorce from Diego Rivera. The painting depicts two different personalities, or versions of her, sitting on a bench. The Frida on the left is clad in a Victorian era wedding dress (this depicts the Frida that Diego left), and the one on the right wears a Tehuana, which is the part of Frida that Diego loved and respected. The hearts of the two Fridas are exposed. The one on the left’s heart is broken, and the one on the right’s heart is whole. The fact that she is holding her own hand could suggest that she wants us to see that she is her only companion. The composition of the foreground makes the two women the centre of attention, and the gloomy sky in the background could reflect inner turmoil. Despite the deeper meaning of the portrait, both Fridas look equally as confident and officious.

Movement in this portrait is very little, the only thing we can see that is actively moving is the cut artery from her heart which is squirting blood. This is the first thing that caught my attention. I think, paired with the scissors in her hand, this could imply self-destruction but giving the circumstances one would be right to assume heartbreak.

The actual make-up of the painting is very pristine, with her use of oil on canvas. The brush strokes are delicate, precise and give a realistic effect. There’s a lot of depth in the painting, like in the folds of her dresses and the use of shadow. Frida has shown light and dark tones clearly by making herself the lightest and most vibrant subject in the area, which in contrast, is very dark and almost sinister. Despite the contrast, there’s still a sort of darkness all throughout the painting. The portrait gives an overall negative vibe; it makes me feel sympathetic towards her.

The use of line is very subtle and is immaculately blended. The most colourful thing in the foreground is the happy Frida on the right, who wears blue, orange, and gold tones. There doesn’t seem to be an obvious colour scheme. Frida in the white dress is very neutral; it complies of subtle tones of olive and lilac, and overall the wedding dress is a blend of harmonious colours. The painting is, in my opinion, half cold tones and half warm tones. The representation of herself in the painting is realistic but her style of painting gives it an almost cartoon effect.

I really adore this painting. I like it because it’s obviously something which holds much deeper meaning. It’s symbolic of heartbreak, despair and deceitfulness but, ultimately, is a representation of empowerment and sticking by your side when no one else will.

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