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Two major accidents

Posted April. 29, 2021 07:29,   

Updated April. 29, 2021 07:29


The opening movie of the 59th Venice Film Festival in 2002 was “Frida,” a biographical movie about painter Frida Kahlo. Salma Hayek who played Kahlo as if she came to life again had a turning point in her acting career with the nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. The painter had two turning points in her life. She referred to them as “major accidents.”

"There have been two major accidents in my life, Diego...the trolley and you, by far you are the worst.” Kahlo actually said these lines in the movie to Diego Rivera. The accident she experienced at the age of 18 changed her entire life. She wanted to become a doctor before the accident but later she started painting, which later became her career, to forget about the extreme physical pain she had to endure lying in bed. The second major accident refers to her marriage with prominent Mexican painter Diego Riviera. Riviera’s womanizing and frequent affairs hurt her more emotionally than her physical pain. The two accidents pulled Kahlo to the bottom of hell, but she healed herself by creating self-portraits with pain.

This painting was created by Kahlo during her trip to New York for an exhibition one year before the end of their 10-year marriage. Kahlo in the self-portrait seems proud and confident, not wounded, hurt, or sad as in other self-portraits, perhaps because she had just finished a successful exhibition in New York as an independent painter, not as the wife of Riviera. She looks like a female warrior of the jungle wearing a necklace made of animal bones over a traditional Mexican outfit. The animal on her shoulder comforting her is the monkey that she had in real life. In fact, Kahlo raised exotic animals, including monkeys and parrots, and plants to find peace.


Did her desperation produce a miracle? Kahlo’s dramatic life later became the subject of a Hollywood movie. The two major accidents were the start of her extreme pain, but the desperation to escape from the pain was what drove her to become a world-renowned painter exceeding Riviera.