The ‘In-Between’ Artist – Frida Kahlo’s Unspoken Relevance in Today’s Multiculturalism

“‘I never painted dreams. I paint my own reality.’

“Such was Frida Kahlo’s resolute response when conferred with the title ‘Surrealist’ (Kahlo, 1953, n.p.). Her work, which seems to impinge on both Surrealist and Magical Realist worlds, brings together the purportedly disparate realms of fantasy and reality; mythology and rationality; native Mexican votive art and European ‘high’ art. In her self-portraits, the personal, national and political overlap to represent her sundry hybridity. The cultural locations her artwork explores, between and across the axes of race, sex, gender and sexuality, ‘queer’ the binaries through which differences are normatively mapped.”

This is an extract from Anna Hayes of Cardiff University, in her article on Frida Kahlo as ‘The Artist ‘In-Between’. Our generation’s growing multiculturalism brought about by the drastic exponential escalation in globalization, internationalism and technological advancements have caused our internal identities to become multi-dimensional and at most times, contradictory. It has become more prevalent now that today’s generation find it decreasingly easy to confine themselves into a solitary type of socio-cultural collective that retrospectively have provided their ancestors with a sufficient sense of belonging. Hayes’ thesis unravels these paradoxical elements of the modern world by picking apart the underlying logical complexity behind the works of the madly genius Frida Kahlo, a surrealist modern artist who was way ahead of her time.

Kahlo The Wild
Frida Kahlo, seen here, is dressed in her traditional Mexican costume, photographed by Nickolas Muray in New York, 1938. (originally monochrome)

Hayes here also discussed the boldly intricate coverage of Kahlo’s works on a variety of topics such as sexuality, feminism, bitter realities of racial and cultural marginalization, topics of which were during the life and times of Kahlo were taboo one way or the other. This stigma still rings true and present in many societies and even nations today despite our era being post-colonialist and post-Civil Rights movements. This makes the work of Kahlo more crucial than ever to be thought through and discussed as I believe that artists as such ‘paint reality’ as they say they do and so very intelligently do so. Hayes also attempts to explain here the more introspective yet the common universal ideology about the excruciating duality of the human spirit, or the ‘self’ (for more strictly secular readers) as depicted here in one of Kahlo’s prominently captivating masterpieces, ‘The Two Fridas’.

The Two Fridas
“The Two Fridas” by Frida Kahlo, 1939. Oil on canvas. The painting was the first large-scale work of the artist. Located in Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City. Read Hayes’ article on her elaboration behind the masterpiece.

Read the full text article by Anna Hayes as aforementioned through the link below, followed by the Burmese translation of the same article.

Frida Kahlo: An Artist ‘In Between’

Frida Kahlo Burmese Translation  

(Burmese Translation acknowledgements: Amy @ Phoo Myat Thwe)

Published in support to and through collaboration with Myanm/art.

Published by Anna Tan (陈丽安)

Anna is a neuroscientist (by training) who is passionate about International Affairs. She describes herself as an East-West hybrid, well-versed with life as a third culture kid that was raised in South East Asia. Anna also enjoys museums, theatres and her morning coffees. She also likes her Kaya Toast and Mohinga (on separate occasions). She is currently based at King’s College London, at the Faculty of Social Science and Public Policy. You can follow her on Twitter: @AnnaTanGTW.

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