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Frida Kahlo and the lion in the wardrobe

Posted by Alberto Bertolazzi on
Frida Kahlo e il leone nell’armadio

That day, and it was a day like any other in that village on the outskirts of Mexico City, something told her to change places. It was as if the seat spoke to her: "Go back, this isn't for you!". It wasn't the first time he'd heard things talked about. It was part of her inner world: a spirit within her that was incarnated outside of her. Later they would say it was surrealism . However, after leaving school and getting on the bus, she sat in her usual seat. The car left. Frida chatted with Alejandro, who wanted to be a journalist and was studying and was also handsome. As he chatted, he saw the tram out of the corner of his eye and heard the bell ringing desperately. It was a moment and all the objects on the bus began to scream, even before the passengers did. Frida didn't want to scream, but she didn't have time to hug Alejandro: she looked at him without understanding the terrible expression on his face. However, she immediately saw the windows crumbling and even thought she caught a greeting and a smile from the tram driver, who had now entered the side of the bus. The fact that the driver was smiling, moreover, was certainly out of place, given that the crash of the two cars did not seem at all like an event to rejoice about. But maybe it was just a grimace of pain. Very understandable, all things considered.

Meanwhile something was also happening on the other side: a large wall was crashing into the bus. Or maybe it was the bus crashing into the wall, but these are too relative to be clear, Frida thought. Then everything turned red, like blood dripping everywhere. And black, like the night that suddenly fell on the bus, the tram, the wall, Frida and Alejandro.

Frida woke up in the hospital and was already a different person: all the spirits that lurked in her heart had left and would no longer want to return. On the other hand, almost all the objects surrounding her on the bus had entered her body. He had a hundred broken bones and there wasn't an inch of his body that wasn't screaming in pain. He underwent 32 operations and had to stay in bed for many months. He studied and read a lot. Then he began to paint. And on the table, with the colors, she put together the spirits, the pain, the history of her Mexico, the naive style of the painters she loved most - among them Diego Rivera, who would become her husband - communism, love.

We said that, to try to summarize his style in one word, they said it was surrealism. She would shake her head and say, “I don't know what surrealism is. For me, painting is something playful: it's the magical surprise of finding a lion in the wardrobe, where you were sure you'd find the shirts."

This is how Frida Kahlo began to become the greatest artist of the neo-Latin world, and one of the most admired women of the twentieth century.

The drawings that accompany this article are by Sacco and Vallarino and are taken from the book I am Frida Kahlo by Carolina Zanotti, in which the Mexican artist talks about herself in the first person, in simple language, in a sort of autobiographical diary.

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