Frida Kahlo, born on July 6, 1907, was an incredibly strong woman and an internationally recognized Mexican painter. She was married to a Mexican painter Diego Rivera, whose artistry she admired. Her work used to carry a competent blend of the Mexican and European cultures. Most of her paintings were self-portraits (55 out of 143), mostly remarkably portraying her pain and sexuality. Kahlo’s “The Roots” is one of her most magnificent works.
In her short span of life, Frida endured what most people cannot even imagine. When she was 19, she met with an accident, with a trolley car. She broke her spinal column, collarbone, ribs, pelvis, eleven fractures in her right leg, the right foot crushed & dislocated, and a shoulder also got dislocated. She had as many as 35 operations, owing to this accident. To give vent to all her trauma, she transformed her sufferings, on the canvas, as self-portraits, especially “The Roots.” To justify her obsession with self-portraits, she once said, “I paint self-portraits because I am the person I know best. I paint my own reality. The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to and I paint whatever passes through my head without any other considerations.”
“The Roots,” painted in 1943, as mentioned above, was one of her most beautiful and identifying self-portraits. She painted it to mark her reunion with her estranged husband, Diego Rivera, after an undesirable phase of pain and suffering. The painting, in the background of happiness, also displays her feelings about her ‘developed’ physical inabilities in life. Frida had lost her reproductive ability in the accident and carried that incompleteness and pain in her heart. This 12″ X 19.5″ oil on metal work canvassed Frida’s desire to be a part of feminine genesis and to be connected to life like others. It displays her desire of having her own children. Frida Kahlo adored Pedregal’s rough grey rocks in South Mexico and she set them in the backdrop of her painting. The detailed, leafless stems around Frida, in the painting, portray her ‘deliberate’ infertility, her severely injured body, her lost loves, and the other misses of her life.
Sotheby’s auctioned “The Roots” at a record price of $5,616,000, the highest price a Latin Mexican artist ever commanded. Her other popular paintings were, “The Two Fridas,” painted to mark her divorce with Diego, “Tree of Hope,” and “My Nurse and I.” Kahlo’s artistic ability was amazing. She imbibed inspirations from different people, cultures, and her surroundings, blending their essence in her customized, fresh, and distinct style. She competently canvassed not only her physical trauma, but also the life-long psychological one, translating into numerous unexplored ideas and emotions. Frida did not paint dream or fantasies, but her own reality. She truly said, ‘I am not sick. I am broken. But I am happy as long as I can paint.” The tower of strength, Frida died of her pain on July13, 1954.