I thought I would wait until I finished The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver to post about it, but the story has begun to overwhelm me with new ideas. One of the most promising new ways of thinking that I am coming to is in my approach to Frida Kahlo. Being a naturally optimistic and happy person, I tend to shy away from dark, pain-filled art, books, films, etc. I have had enough sorrow to have lived my own darkness, and I usually don't want to be confronted with someone else's version of grief. I like art that ennobles and improves my life. So, in the past, I have shied away from Frida, because she is hard. She is hard to love and hard to understand. Reflecting on her work now, my impression is that she felt wounded and raw and wide-open to the grief of the world. But I also suspect that she loved her life and hated her pain and took all she could from both. She was dealt so many successive hard blows, and she just kept coming back for more. What bravery and what strength it must have taken to display her pain to a critical world in her work as she did.
I suspect she is much misunderstood because she is not easy. She was probably a pain in the ass to love, for friends and family alike. There is no one path to understanding her, and there are no simple interpretations that will lead you to her. I'd like to make that kind of complexity a personal goal. Interesting people may be easy to approach, but they cannot be captured with one word, or one picture, or even one idea. They are often a mass of beautiful contradictions. You just have to plunge in, grab hold of something, hang on, and enjoy the ride of knowing them.