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Artwork Essay

The “Self-Portrait with a bandaged ear” by Vincent Van Gogh and “The Two Fridas” by Mexican painter Kahlo Frida are depicting the artists’ deep hurt and emotional breakdown at losing their special person in life. However, the portrait “The Two Fridas” is representing the artist’s conflicting psychological mind more into details and straightforward than Vincent Van Gogh’s self-portrait “The Bandaged Ear. ” In “The Two Fridas,” she uses various actions and clear setting to help viewers the theme of painting easily. The background is filled with the agitated clouds on the stormy dark sky and it obviously reflects her inner pain.

Frida who sits on the left side portrays rejected Frida by her husband Diego Rivera. On the right, it represents loved and respected Frida by him. The two Fridas hold hands each other as if loved Frida tries to join unloved Frida’s suffering. It also implies her only companion is herself since she was six years old. She was isolated from other people due to her health problems. In “The bandaged ear,” Van Gogh pierces the viewer’s feeling using the facial expression rather than actions. His pale and thin face like Jesus Christ in a late medieval painting and every brushstroke that he made on the canvas tells his pitiful presence at the time.

In fact, it is not easy to catching the purpose of the Japanese painting on the wall behind Van Gogh. For late 18th century, European artists considered the traditional Japanese art as a utopian aestheticism. So, he uses the Japanese painting for representing his lost paradise. Frida utilizes many symbolic and striking objects to illustrate her turmoil. The two hearts express her pain. The abandoned Frida’s heart is dying while the other Frida’s heart is whole. The unloved Frida is holding the surgical pincer to cut off a vein that travels through both Fridas’ hearts.

Frida tries to stop the flow of blood from loved Frida on the right. Therefore, the blood is dripping on her white dress and it is the sign of danger of bleeding to death. In addition, her white dress is ripped open and it refers her broken relationship between Diego. Van Gogh simply uses fewer objects than Frida’s portrait. In combination of wearing a bandage across his ear to under his chin and his sallow skin imply his health condition is unwell. He may be shivering inside because he wears a coat and hat. Frida Kahlo has been associated with the surrealist movement which is the most influential movement in early 1900’s.

This movement is influenced by Sigman Freud and Karl Max and they are well known psychologists. The surrealists believe the conscious mind repress the power of imagination so they are willing to depict their unlimited imagination. They expose the uncensored feeling as if in a dream. Also, they use many different kinds of symbols and colors to make art more details and straightforward. Unlike surrealist Frida, the impressionist artist Van Gogh conveys the subject of his art by demonstrating the techniques of loose brushstrokes that barely forms the figure and it makes his piece sort of like a sketch or “unfinished painting.

He uses not many different colors but instead he focuses on putting shadows or highlights in color. Both of great self portraits portray the artists’ mental and physical collapse in their own stylistic and unique techniques. However, Kahlo Frida’s painting is easier to analyze the subject of artwork than Van Gogh’s painting. Because, she chooses varieties of symbols and colors to express her strange and violent imaginations and it definitely helps viewers easy to define her painful heart through her painting.


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