Deeper Truth

This morning I find myself thinking of Frida Kahlo, a woman who delved so deeply into the substance of her pain that her art is a kind of bombardment. One cannot look away from her compelling features. In fact, she has forced herself upon the viewers of her paintings. Face after beautiful face looks out from the torturous scenes that depict her story, and one can turn away or close the book, but one cannot forget.

I first became acquainted with her vibrant art in Taos, New Mexico, reproduced on postcards and sharing a display rack with the more accessible images left behind by Georgia O’keefe. I gravitated toward the sensual beauty of Georgia’s flowers and landscapes – almost repelled by Frida’s pain.  But my married lover, with whom I was sharing a clandestine few days, was entranced by the woman’s courageous repetition of her initial crucifixion. On the Christmas before I extracted myself from one more untenable relationship, he presented me with a magnificent book of her paintings. Untenable, too, was the pain staring out at me from every page. Those images came to represent the pain I caused my lover, not to mention the pain I dealt myself in the days, months, years to follow. Though I gave the book to my therapist as a gesture of letting go, I now know it as a gesture of rejection. Who wants to live with pain? But, honestly, does anyone live without pain?

Not me, though for endless years I have tried not to let it show, tried to be pleasingly cheerful and positive with family, going for glorious with my audience and the viewers of my  art. It isn’t really false: the cheer or the glory, but it’s not the whole story. Truth has as many facets as a star, and countless layers. This Christmas I received another book of Frida Kahlo’s art. This year I find myself embracing deeper truth. Hers – and my own.



4 Responses to “Deeper Truth”

  1. Christopher Says:

    Leif, I love to think of Walter Anderson’s cottage and Frida Kahlo’s house in Mexico.

    In both places, pain was transmuted into joy… for others. That is what art sometimes does, and perhaps why you have always been drawn to it.

  2. leiflife Says:

    Christopher, Thank you for the marvelous photo of Frida’s cottage. That Blue – so true to her and the vibrant colors in her paintings. And thank you for “Pain transmuted into joy”. It is affirmation for what I am about right now. May I have the courage to dive more deeply into the source – and the energy to make more joy, if only for a few.

  3. Christopher Says:

    Kahlo lived through unspeakable pain. A friend of mine just sent me this, from Tony Judt, a truly great man who is now afflicted with ALS, and who is still able to write.

  4. leiflife Says:

    I read the letter by Tony Judt. Amazing – and unimaginable. I feel ashamed to call any of what I have experiienced pain. No lasting physical pain. Emotional pain? Well… It seems like nothing when I think that I can still DANCE.

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