Mental Health Guest Posts

Art and Mental Health: What Frida Kahlo’s Biopic Teaches Us About Mental Illness and Artistic Expression

The biopic drama of Frida Kahlo’s life highlights the use of art to depict grief and express the bitterness that life sometimes supplies in a true surrealist fashion. We explore this more in this article.

The biopic drama of Frida Kahlo’s life highlights the use of art to depict grief and express the bitterness that life sometimes supplies in a true surrealist fashion. Frida Kahlo was diagnosed with minor depression, experienced 2 major depressive episodes and suicide attempts throughout her lifetime.

“My paintings carry with it a message of pain.”

Aside from Frida’s massive impact on culture and society, the film shows that she had a pretty rough journey. A fatal traffic accident forced a young Frida to abandon higher education in the medical field and pursue her painting hobby as a career. As the medical issues persisted, Frida had several miscarriages during a turbulent marriage with her fellow artist and husband Diego Rivera, who she eventually divorced after he slept with her sister (ouch).

“There have been two great accidents in my life. One was the trolley and the other was Diego. Diego was by far the worst.”

The film uses a variety of cinematic devices to illustrate what it might feel like to experience mental illness. The washed colours, slow motion and short cartoonish scenes create a visual of Frida’s demons as her life story unfolds. Unlike literature and music, films can use both audio and visual means to express the subject’s emotions (or lack of). The directors of Frida include a brilliant soundtrack to accompany each emotive scene including the beautify dark ballad Paloma Negra by Chavela Vargas.

Although no official link has been found between mental illness and art, it can help as both therapy and a source of comfort if shared with others going through a similar experience.

Frida’s biopic plays out her tremendous life while displaying the highs and lows of her emotional state and battle with depression. Even though rationality typically trumps emotion in the battle between internal forces to guide us through life, without emotion there is no art.

So, during those times when your mind is in a dark or bizarre place try and create something, anything – you never know how valuable it could be.

Written by Savannah


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