This is an interesting example of how current projects can color the way in which we interpret artists work. I have also always been intrigued by Kohl’s decision to paint herself with mono- brow and a shadow above her upper lip. It is a bold decision one which to me shows a refusal to conform to What is generally thought to be attractive by the masses. This is one of the few ways in which Friday Kohl is not influenced by the world around her, although perhaps when painting in the asses this influence of society on the individual to look a certain way was not as strong as it is today. As also struck by the drama captured within the piece; firstly because everything within it seems to have a deliberate symbolic significance gesture, hi. Lighted by Kohl’s use of bold colors and outlines particularly on the reuses, Also the barren landscape under a stormy sky, the joined hands, sharp instrument and blood make a very sinister almost ritual like atmosphere. The sheer size of the painting also makes a considerable impression on the viewer. However after carrying out further research I found that personal events had been far more influential upon the piece than first realized.
The ‘b,vain’ figures are widely considered to represent the loved (symbolized by the dull heart) and unloved (open heart) halves of r-arid, painted in response to the struggle of her failing marriage because of the infidelity of her husband. Riviera ironically said hat’ ‘Pride is the only example an artist who tore open her chest and heart to reveal the biological truth of her paintings. ‘ He is however acknowledging that Kohl drew upon her reactions to experience to create. The different dresses are significant even addressing the impact of an artist’s background on their work.
The stiff White Victorian style dress represents German ancestry form her father and the loose native Athenian-style dress to represent her indigenous background on her mother’s side. Also in the Wider sense Of Mexico, the painting is symbolic of colonization when European and American blood mixed. The scale, ram and nationalism Of Kohl’s work could also be influenced by husband Who painted vast murals on the walls of public buildings to traumatized the history of his native land.
One Fresco depicts the struggles between indigenous Mexicans and Spanish colonizers in the National Palace in Mexico City ‘Ancient Mexico. ‘ Kohl’s nationalism is also evident in this particular piece with the inclusion of the Athenian dress. The heart was an important symbol in the art of the Aztec who Mexican Nationalists regarded as the last independent rulers of an indigenous political unit. ‘The Two Fridays’ represents both the artist personal trestles and the struggles to her homeland.
Perhaps even more so than ‘The Two Fridays’ in ‘The Broken Column’ Kohl uses art to address her own personal demons, Again, the lone figure set against a barren landscape evoking a sense of total desolation and emotional isolation. The tears and nakedness of the subject suggests vulnerability and most strikingly of all, pain is portrayed through harsh nails, a constraining brace and a broken column. As in ‘The Two Arider’ every stroke of the brush has been laid down firmly to create a simple, clear image ensuring that the style of painting does not distract from the message.
By encasing objects with neat contours Kohl creates a feeling of confinement and harshness that reflects her physical imprisonment inside a crippled body. Underlying all Of these techniques and compositional decisions is perhaps the most pivotal moment in Kohl’s life- a streetcar accident that left her permanently disabled. ‘The Broken Column’ deals directly With the incident, but the physical and emotional pain it caused her is present in the harshness of all of her paintings.
This is perhaps the most obvious way in which life events influence artists, in that her injuries and inability to move gave her the mime to paint intensively: ‘l we done my paintings well, not quickly but patiently, and they have a message of pain in them,’ An artists work is not only influenced by events that affect them directly such as injuries and relationships, but also the political, social and cultural movements happening around them, In 1938 And© Breton said Friday’s work had ‘blossomed forth into pure surrealist’ and is described in Gardener’s Art through the Ages as the most autobiographical of all artists concerned with surrealism… Who used the details of her own life as powerful symbols for the psychological pain of human existence. ‘ However surrealism draws upon the private world of the mind and disregards the limitations of society and reason found in their surroundings. Hearers (author of Friday: The Paintings) argues that Skalds paintings should not be affiliated with the movement because they were grounded in autobiography rather than fantasy.
Although her paintings are firmly rooted in her own reality rather than in a dream, there is an undeniable ‘other-avowedly’ quality to many of her pieces- for example ‘The Wounded Deer’ in which Kohl draws her head on the body of a deer. It seems to me that the majority of surrealist’ elements of her paintings such as the column in ‘The Broken Column’ are metaphorical exaggerations of reality used to symbolize a message, and doing it in this way makes it more Obvious for the viewer to pick up on. Friday Kohl addressed the ‘deepest layers of reality in her paintings distinguishing her work from that of Other Surrealists by noting that it dealt not With dream worlds, but rather With her own lived reality.