The exercise asks to select a historic portrait and describe what we see. I thought to browse some of the portraits of the famous Mexican artist Frida Kahlo and found her paintings on The Complete Works of Frida Kahlo. The painting I chose below is called “The Wounded Deer” and also “The Little Deer”.
© Frida Kahlo 1946
The first thing I notice about this painting is Frida’s face expression; to me I see a strong fearless look despite the hurt and pain which is illustrated by the blood and arrows. The body of the deer to me indicates the beauty, and sweetness of Frida, perhaps the beauty of her figure and kindness of her heart. Although she is hurt and in deep pain; she is like a deer trying to enjoy beauty and freedom.
The background is interesting too, it seems like there is a storm in the sky or bad weather and the trees are somehow tall and scary. Perhaps it represents the scary world around her or the obstacles she had to face. She also seems trapped between those trees, she is trapped in her disabled body and cannot free herself. To me, Frida painted her unpleasant experience and true personal identity.
Reading through different sites talking about this portrait, it explains the portrait more in depth, things I haven’t thought about although I know Frida Kahlo’s story. This famous Mexican artist suffered a lot of pain physically from the accident that she had when she was a teenager. She was isolated from the world because of her injuries and she also faced a lot of marriage problems. She was famous for her self portraits and “The Wounded Deer” was one of her oil painted self portraits.
The WikiArt.org explains that Kahlo was interested in ancient Eastern religions and mysticism thus she painted herself as a deer which is a link to her beliefs. It indicates that the arrows refer to her accident injuries and hurtful marriage. The Wikipedia describes and analysis the painting in more depth. It indicates that Kahlo painted herself as an animal and human hybrid mainly a male deer which represents her bisexuality. She represented herself as part male and part female. The hybrid is an adoption of pre-Columbian idea which believes that the right foot is represented by the deer. Because Kahlo was born in day 9; she symbolized herself as a deer. The pre-Columbian beliefs indicates that the days are represented by a symbol and a number. Nine is a symbol for earthly elements and underworld which are two bad symbols. The number nine can be seen in the nine arrows, nine trees in the left side and nine antlers.
Kahlo had earned herself a place in history. She used her art to show who she was and she understood her personal identity pretty well and was able to show it in her self portraits. One year before her death; her right leg which in this painting symbolizes a deer was amputated due to complications from gangrene.
Bibliography / References:
Feminist Art Archive. The Revolutionary Artist: Frida Kahlo [online]. Feminist Art Archive. Available from: http://courses.washington.edu/femart/final_project/wordpress/frida-kahlo/ [Accessed 8 July, 2016].
WikiArt. The Wounded Deer [online]. WikiArt. Available from: http://www.wikiart.org/en/frida-kahlo/the-wounded-deer-1946 [Accessed 8 July, 2016].
Wikipedia. The Wounded Deer [online]. Wikipedia. Available from: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wounded_Deer#Interpretation_and_analysis [Accessed 8 July, 2016].