Betty Kahlo


Fridah Kahlo is a Mexican artist born in Coyocoan, Mexico City. The artists’ childhood and adult life played a significant role in shaping her paintings.  Most of her works were mainly about herself, and they are informed by the reality that inspires her experiences and concentration on personal life. Although she had initially thought of being a doctor, her close interaction with her father played a key role in making her become a painter, Khalo’s father was a photographer. The themes of her works changed in relation to the different stages of her life (Hesse, 2018). For instance, during her marriage with Diego Rivera, most of her portraits featured her husband in which she played a passive role and specifically wanted to display the role of a woman in most of them.  After divorce with her husband, most of her works begin majoring on personal experiences. During this period, she began gaining international recognition.  The painting works by Kahlo have taken a central role in the transformation of art in the world, which can be understood through looking at the artist’s work, her personal life and the underlying meaning in some of her paintings.

Life of the artist

In early life at the age of six, she suffered from polio which made her be in the hospital for weeks. The condition affected her leg, and to cover her leg. Her father advised her to be wearing long skirts an aspect that is evident in most of the paintings by the artist. The other element that is greatly portrayed in most of her paintings is in relation to the accident that she encountered at the eighteen, which got her bedridden for months (Courtney et al., 2016). The accident had adverse effects on her life making her unable to give birth. For instance, My Birth is a painting by the artist portraying both the child and the mother are dead while giving birth.  The painting suggests her pain due to the inability to give birth. The failure to give birth is also evident in her painting, Fridah and the Miscarriage, a demonstration of the internal pain she goes through because of the inability to bore a child. Growing up in a family that was supportive of her artwork makes her accomplish a lot in art. Her family specifically her father became an inspiration in her drive to transform the world of the art through her painting. She features her family in some of her painting to illustrate the role that her family had in her pictures. In her painting, the Family Tree, she celebrates her heritage through the depictions of her mother and father’s heritage.

Kahlo’s marriage to Diego, a famous artist during that time, also helped accomplish a lot in her artwork. Diego who mainly majored on Murrays, his works became loved by Kahlo who used to travel within him in different places, and because of that most of the paintings, Diego during the period featured Kahlo. By traveling to the different regions, Kahlo got the opportunity to learn her old culture and collected items that were much used in most of her works. She was able to discover her ancestral culture and blend it with her family life something prevalent in most of the works by the artist (Courtney et al., 2016).  Thus, despite the challenges that the couples had, Diego was an influential figure in the paintings by Kahlo. The paintings at this time by Kahlo were not famous due to the perception of women during this period. However, with the rise of feminism, most people took an interest in her works, and this set the ground for the popularity of the artist. She became one of the renowned female artists. After getting married to Diego, their marriage was full of challenges that got to a point where the two divorced. Apart from the pain she underwent through during her early life, from the accident and the polio infection at six, she recalls that her marriage was one of the tragic experiences of her life.

The conflicts that Kahlo encountered are elaborate in some of her paintings. The most common conflict in Kahlo’s work is internal conflict.  She always grew up with the desire of being a mother at some point. Failure to give birth due to the effects that the accident had on her womb was not only suffering, but became a conflict that she had to live within her whole life (Courtney et al., 2016). Her paintings such as the Martyrdom of Frustrated Motherhood portray the conflict of the failure to give birth that she had to struggle within her whole life. The conflict is also apparent in one of the dialogues she had with Diego in which she tells her husband the desire to have a child.

Artists work

Most of her paintings have bright colors with the influence of European and Mexican culture. In one of her painting, Time Flies, she profoundly employs the Mexican style. In this particular motif, she uses vivid and different colors. She recognized her deep Mexican culture in the painting through the use of the colors of the Mexican flag (Courtney et al., 2016).  Her style of dressing was of Mexican descent, which enabled her to cover the deformity of her leg. Kahlo’s technique was in her use of personal experience as guidance in most of her works (Launer, 2018). Through the use of her experiences in her works, she fully brings out the theme of her paintings.  Diego inspired her inspiration and love for Murrays.  The artist’s images are represented in an order that is informed by her experiences. For instance, before divorcing her husband, most of her paintings featured Diego, but after the divorce, she majored on personal portraits informed by her experiences.  Most of the paintings by Kahlo are on the conflict and the suffering she faced, and as such, she communicates her take on her life experiences through her paintings.

Artist’s message

The artists demonstrate the relevance of personal experiences and how origin might impact the way we relate with others. The artist further shows personal conflicts that individuals struggle with, but due to the inability to speak, they continue to be affected by such horrible life experiences. The paintings were in a period when women did not have a voice in society. Thus, through the paintings, Kahlo portrays the suffering most women go through, and because they are no sufficient platforms or persons to talk to, they continue to suffer from their past experiences (Courtney et al., 2016).  She communicates the role of the family in shaping people’s lives. Moreover, Fridah acknowledges the role that her family members played in making a renowned artist across the globe. Kahlo aims at influencing the role that families play, and therefore, she portrays her desire for families to help individuals pursue what they want, through giving them the support of what that they might need.


Kahlo works bring her out as a surrealist artist who majors on her experiences to transform her painting. The popularity of the artist’s work and the contribution that they continue to make in the field of art makes them available in significant museum libraries around the world.  The paintings have changed the field of art through stressing on personal experiences, and the use of vibrant colours.  She uses drama and personal experience in which her art and life are personally linked. Her art is a combination of symbolism and diverse origin that entirely makes her artwork takes a different twist from most of the paintings by the old renowned painter. The artist’s works also played a vital role in the rise of women feminism, which mainly came up to advocate for the rights of women.  Kahlo’s works were produced during a period when women did not play an active part in society. However, through majoring on her experiences to derive the themes of her paintings, she became an instrumental figure in giving women a voice in society. Through the images, her works founded the struggle that women go through and the need to address the challenge. Therefore, her works helped in bringing out the role that women play in society, and how artists need to design their works in a manner that can benefit society.















Courtney, C. A., O’Hearn, M. A., & Franck, C. C. (2016). Frida Kahlo: portrait of chronic pain. Physical therapy, 97(1), 90-96.

Hesse, M. (2018). Frida Kahlo: An Illustrated Life. University of Texas Press.

Launer, J. (2018). Frida Kahlo and her doctors. The postgraduate medical journal, 94(1112), 369-370.