Frida Kahlo was an artist who suffered a tragedy the age of 18 that forced her to give up her dreams and aspirations of becoming a doctor. She was involved in a bus accident that left her debilitated and broken. Throughout the course of her life she was in constant pain not only because of the accident, but because of her husband Diego Rivera. Diego was 20 years older than Frida, but she referred to him as her baby. After the accident ruined her chances of becoming a doctor, she followed in her father’s footsteps and became an artist.
He was a photographer. Frida started to paint. This became an outlet for her after her issues with infertility and Diego’s numerous affairs. Frida began to have her own affairs after Diego had an affair with her own sister, Cristina. Friends say she was not above embellishing the truth while drinking, smoking, and using bad language at parties. She painted pictures that revealed her own reality and often shocked the art world with her pieces just as she shocked her friends with her behavior at times.
After more than 30 surgeries due to the accident, she was left mentally broken and in severe pain. As a result she used painkillers and sometimes took them with alcohol, but she still attempted to paint. The combination of painkillers and alcohol caused her paintings to appear careless and hasty. Diego and painting were her life and one of her paintings is called “Diego in My Thoughts”. In the portrait, it shows a picture of Frida herself as well as Diego on her forehead just above her thick, dark eyebrows.
This picture of Diego represents the fact that he was always on her mind. At some time of the day or another, he was in her thoughts. Under her sad eyes are teardrops that represent her sadness about the accident and Diego’s indiscretions. Although she would make light of these affairs, they hurt her deeply because of her tremendous love for him. She once said she suffered two great tragedies in her life. One of which was the accident and the other was Diego. She painted this portrait during a low point in their relationship when Diego was having an affair with an actress.
Rumors emerged that he was going to marry her. Though nothing came of it and he stayed with Frida, she was still deeply saddened. Usually in her numerous self portraits, she has her hair pinned up. In this piece her hair is long and flowing around her neck. This suggests that it is strangling, that the very thought of being without him is taking her very breath away. In the garment she is wearing, the colors red, black, and yellow are present. Green is also the background color. Frida kept a diary of what her colors meant.
In her diary it stated that red meant blood perhaps. Red could have also stood for anger or frustration due to her feelings about Diego or her crippling accident or a combination of both. She said yellow meant madness, sickness, and fear; part of the sun, joy. Her madness and sickness could be how she was feeling as a result of her alcohol and prescription drug use. The joy may have referred to the joy she definitely would have felt had she been able to conceive a child. The color black, she says, means nothing is black.
The green behind her means bad advertisements and good business. Perhaps the bad business could be the fact that Diego was her business, meaning that everything he did affected her in some way which was the background for her paintings. The use of optical color easily allows the viewer a better understanding of the artist’s emotions and feelings. Although, the picture of Diego is scaled small, it is the focal point of the piece because the viewer’s eyes are immediately drawn to it which intrigues him or her.
In conclusion, Frida Kahlo’s piece, “Diego in My Thoughts” uses color to express the emotions she was trying to convey. Her pain is evident through the emphasis she put on the picture of Diego on her forehead as well as the color of his shirt. This artwork is a moving piece because the message this writer received from it is one of frustration and sadness the artist struggled with her entire life at the hands of her philandering husband and the debilitating accident that lead to her use of alcohol and prescription painkillers.