Tonight I watched ITV’s Perspectives: Under My Skin, a documentary lead by musician Emeli Sande about the life and art of Frida Kahlo. An artist I have often found intriguing, yet knew very little about. I had no idea Kahlo had suffered so greatly with poor health from a young age, her physical and emotional anguish illustrated symbolically in so many of her paintings.
Renowned for her self-portraits, her work is certainly confessional, if not self-absorbed. Kahlo reasons with her spectators, explaining “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.” Who can argue with that? Clearly, I myself enjoy nothing more than learning about other people, from observing them to inventing them. However, whenever I produce my own work I can’t help but find glimmers of myself pattered throughout. It is unintentional but perhaps it is inevitable.
One thing I’ve learnt from Kahlo is that truth provides a beautiful source for any art. Some truths are rooted so deep inside ourselves that they are impossible to share, even with our nearest and dearest. It could be that we are unable to articulate them, too strange to understand them ourselves. Emotions such as grief, desire, anger – they’re just words. They still have value but they only touch the surface. Kahlo’s self-discovery is an example of bravery and beauty.