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Frida Kahlo painted The Two Fridas in 1939 following her agonised divorce from her beloved husband and fellow artist Diego Rivera.
It is a surrealistic reproduction of herown likenesses, split into two different yet physically dependent entities. As a young artist Kahlo approached the renowned mural painter Rivera to seek advice about the trajectory of her own career. Showing him a selection of four canvases including Self Portrait in a Velvet Dress, Kahlo and Rivera immediately forged a bond and began a relationship. Married a few later, the pair had a turbulent domestic life, suffering explosive bouts of arguments and countless affairs. Rivera turned a blind eye to Kahlo’s affairs with women but flew into furious tempers over any encounters with men. The final straw was when Kahlo found out that Rivera had had an affair with her young sister Cristina.
After the pair divorced Kahlo painted The Two Fridas in an expression of her sense of loss and her redemptive self-reliance. Revealing the depth of her feeling of abandonment, the right hand reproduction of Kahlo is the incarnation that she felt was adored and respected by Rivera. This figure sits in a Mexican folk costume, holding a symbol of a child Diego. On the left, a Westernised Kahlo in a finely-laced wedding dress, represents the abandoned, divorced version of herself. The exposed hearts of the two incarnations, once joined by a connective vein, have been permanently separated. One broken heart, one complete, the connective vein running to the amulet holding Rivera – this painting is an anatomical dissection of a relationship between a deeply entwined couple and an exploration of Kahlo’s own sense of identity. The Fridas attempt to stop the flow of blood that emerges from Rivera, but it is no use, the two figures simply hold hands in resignation.