Mexican Firecracker (Art Week)
Frida by Bárbara Mujica is a fascinating historical novel about a fascinating woman. Frida Kahlo was a Mexican painter born in 1907. She was firecracker of a woman who painted with gusto despite the fact that most of her life she was in great pain. At the age of six, she contracted polio which left one leg thinner than the other. When she was a teenager, she was on a bus when a trolley collided with it and Frida was impaled by an iron handrail through her pelvis. Throughout her life she had to endure numerous operations and spent a lot of time confined to her bed. Some of her paintings depict the gruesome pain she suffered. Most famous are her self-portraits. Many times she would paint looking in a mirror from her bed. Mujica explains, “Art kept her going. Creating beauty out of pain helped her make sense of things.”
Frida married Diego Rivera, a famous Mexican muralist. Their relationship was volatile as both their artistic temperaments collided. Frida was five-foot-two, but could hold her own against anyone. That included six foot tall, three-hundred pound Diego.
Frida was one hot tamale with a unibrow and a spicy disposition who didn’t let anything slow her down. Bedridden at the opening of her art exhibit she insisted on being taken there on a stretcher by ambulance. “The great Kahlo has done it again! She has made jaws drop and eyes pop.” Even if you’re not a fan of her art, Frida’s story is compelling. Her life was both tragic and triumphant. This was a good book written with captivating style.
“You have a little mustache. It’s adorable….And I like the way your eyebrows come together. They look like the wings of a bird.” The fuzz on her lip and her heavy eyebrows had once made Frida self-conscious, but she learned to love them, even to highlight them in her paintings.”
He kept leaning forward as if her spit were honey. “He looked like he wanted to lap it right out of her mouth,” according to Frida.”
Bárbara Mujica, Frida (New York: Penguin Putnam Inc., 2002), 81.
If you liked this book, you may also enjoy I Am Madame X by Gioia Diliberto, Luncheon of the Boating Party by Susan Vreeland, and The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan.
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