Self-Portrait as Frida Kahlo in "Self-Portrait with Necklace of Thorns" / by Mario Elias

"I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me, too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you." Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo was not unlike many of us. She was a loner who always felt like she didn't fit in. I can relate to that one hundred percent. While she stood out from the pack in regards to artistic vision and talent, consistency and conceptual content, she was a reactionary producer of an enormous amount of selfies. Also 100% relatable to this self-conscious queerboi. While she is a female artist painting portraits of herself, I believe she fits into my project in a way that explores even deeper what male-made portraits cannot.  She created portraits of herself in order to better understand how an experience or feeling was affecting her.  Her reactions to her tumultuous relationship with Diego Rivera... Her realization of the snobbiness of the Art world... Her connection with her ailments... She would cryptically study all of these things using her self-portraiture. 

The self-portrait has long been a means for artists to not only practice their medium sans model, but also a way for the artist to explore the ideas associated with the very broad topic of identity and sense of self.  Kahlo would paint her portraits to occupy her time, she would paint them to get to know herself better, she would paint them to work through troubling times in her life. Most of her life, Kahlo was bedridden. Polio in her youth left one leg thin and frail, so she was never able to be physically active, and a trolley accident in her teens then solidified her sedentary and solitary life.  "I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, I am the person I know best."  She lived most of her life after the accident lying down, and luckily (for her and the rest of the art world) painting was something she could practice in this position.  

Self-Portrait with necklace of thorns and hummingbird, 1940

With "Self-Portrait with necklace of thorns and hummingbird" in 1940, we see Frida at her absolute most quintessential iconographic, insular and stylized self.  This painting was created following her divorce from famous muralist Diego Rivera.  Their relationship was quite the public conversation piece and had many a flaw, but Diego and Frida spent most of their adult lives on-and-off-again with each other. Frida was quite candid with vocalizing her opinions in regards to her male companion.  In this painting, we see Frida almost Christ-like, dressed in all white, with a necklace in place of a crown of thorns. The hummingbird has been said to symbolize hope, with the black cat looming just behind the subject ready to pounce.