The painting “Two Fridas” is one of the most life-reflecting works of the artist of Mexican nationality Frida Kahlo. Being autobiographical, “Two Fridas” became the result of the artist’s pain and personal tragedy of divorce from Diego Rivera. The picture was managed in 1939 in oil and is being accepted as early Mexican surrealism [Davis, p.7].
One can observe an explicit mirror-reflexion of the doubled Fridas, who are wearing different clothes. The Frida in white has the native Indian dress on and represents the person Diego was in love with. In contrast, the other Frida wears European dress and represents the woman Frida has become on divorcing her husband.
The viewer may notice that both Fridas have open hearts and interlacing bloodlines. The Fridas are sitting in the same positions, are holding each other hands, which, in its turn, expressed the thought that duality is still conditioned by the unity of these parts.
The observer may also see that the Frida in white has the heart ouvert and her bloodline is cut with scissors. In contrast, there is neither bloodline cut, nor heart cut on half.
Hence, we can state that a picture has two planes – the foreground and the background. The mirror-reflexion of the two Fridas constitutes the foreground of the painting. The two Fridas are sitting on the background of alarming cloudy skies.
Generally, the mood of the picture is suppressing and overwhelming, which is being majorly achieved by the predominant hues of the painting. The latter are dirty white, grey, dark blue and dark green. These are cool colors and, surely, being in predominance, they create the atmosphere of the picture. There is not very much contrast in light and shadow and there is an impression that it is being smoothed.
In general, the colors choice fully corresponds to the idea of the painting and there is non-conformity.
The first grasp of the picture creates a strong impression of heartbreak. And this inner stress, this tragedy is being overcome by the two figures, who are not only holding each other by the hand, which incorporates some physical contact and, correspondingly, support [Herrera, p.35].
The two figures on the picture are being either linked in the inner world, which is being illustrated by the unity of the bloodlines. The author underlines, that they are not only similar from the appearance; they have also the common inside feeling.
Indeed, the careful observer may notice the whole tragic depth of the situation. The both figures illustrate the Frida “at the moment” of heartbreaking and at the “after”-period.
The Frida in white has the vessels cut with the scissors and the viewer feels this blood dropping onto the innocent dress of her feelings towards her husband. Fridas heart I cut in half. This incorporates the fact that Diego has really been more than an actual husband for her.
She perceived him as a part of her inner nature, part of her creative essence, the blood transfusion. That is why Frida is being illustrated with the white cut heart and bloodline. The “openness” of her wounds hurt not only the artist, but also the viewer and symbolizes the pain of separation.
Further, once hurt, the heart and the feelings are not likely to be as open as for the first time. The corresponding illustration to this would constitute the illustration of the “second” Frida. As one may observe, in comparison to the Frida in white, her heart and her bloodlines ane not being cut. The second figure of Frida symbolizes the nature of human feelings – once hurt, which, in its turn, steels these feelings, the organism becomes accustomed to it and will never react on the same pain in the same way.
Pain makes your heart close, like a seashell, be passionless in everything you do for you are afraid to get the same pain portion for the second time. That is why we could compare the two figures like the opposites in cold-bloodiness. The Frida in white has the emotional reaction as the basis of her relationships. Unlike the “second” Frida, who has acquired the critical and analytical mind properties.
Frida Kahlo’s painting “The Two Fridas” is a complex work, which is concentrated on the Frida’s duality. My first impression about this piece of art could not be called univalent. The mixed feeling of fear and pain crawled on to my body. The absence of traditional sense of art I have always known was blurred and only after making some research into this painting, I became able to perceive it as a kind of art too.
The picture is deeply pierced with sadness and unavoidable pain of separation with the one Frida loved. However, in spite of this, the moment of unity of the two figures of dual personality kept me thinking for a long time.
Indeed, the self-support and self-consideration are the first things we have to manage to do during a difficult period. Even if somebody has hurt you, it is important that you remained all by yourself, that you never lost your direction, and was confident and supportive in relation to yourself all the time.
Being able to analyze this work from another point of view, I would like to point out that everything in this painting is mutually harmonized. From the subtleties to the colors choice – everything is completely balanced and corresponds to the idea of the painting.
I should say, that the sincerity of all the feelings experienced by the author was successfully conveyed in the painting “The Two Fridas”. The author says: “Since my subjects have always been my sensations, my states of mind and the profound reactions that life has been producing in me, I have frequently objectified all this in figures of myself, which were the most sincere and real thing that I could do in order to express what I felt inside and outside of myself.” [Callow, p.5]
The following Frida’s quotation would be one of the reasonable explanations to her artistic activity: “I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best.” [Gillingham, p.3] “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 consideration.”
Ben Davis in is article about “The Two Fridas” points out: “There seem to be two Frida Kahlos — and not just the two Frida Kahlos in The Two Fridas, the famous 1939 painting on view currently at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in “Frida Kahlo.” Frida Kahlo is an “extraordinary woman, who turned her love and pain into art..” [Davis, p.5]
Callow, Mike About Frida Kahlo’s Art 1 Jan. 2008.
Davis, Ben “Two Fridas” Artnet Magazine 2008.
< http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/reviews/davis/davis8-28-08.asp >
Gillingham, Amie “Frida Kahlo – Identity/Duality” Art History and Criticism. 1996
Herrera, Hayden. Frida Kahlo: The PaintingsHarperCollins Publishers Inc. New York 1991, p. 156