25 January 2010

The Gospel According to Kahlo II

I finally found it in the book. The first time Frida Kahlo says it, precisely:

The most important thing about a person is always the thing you don't know.

The context is double-barreled. First, she has just pulled back her full length, Indian dress to show her butchered up leg to our protagonist for the first time. Shepherd had commented innocently on her extravagant and famous manner of dressing. She then showed him the primary reason for that manner of dressing.

Second, the other subject of the conversation was her very personal paintings and some nasty reviews in New York and Paris. All great paintings portray something hidden in the subject. (My theory, not Ms. Kingsolver's, although I am sure that I picked that up somewhere else.) In Frida Kahlo's case the subject is herself.

Perhaps Ms. Kingsolver in her research discovered that Frida Kahlo actually made this statement at some time. Perhaps Ms. Kingsolver invented it. It makes little difference to me. In either case the statement goes right to the heart of her paintings.

These paintings are so revealing of things about her that others did not know. Many are downright difficult to look at. I am speaking for example of The Broken Column, previously posted, and

My Birth


Henry Ford Hospital

and, last but not least. . .

A Few Small Nips


Bloggerboy FFM said...

"The most important thing about any person is what you don't know."

There also is an implied put-down in that powerful sentence: once you know it you lose interest in the person. That reminds me a bit of the main character's rationale in Unbearable Lightness of Being for seducing women. He wanted to find the one kernel of uniqueness in each woman ... and then move on.

Those really are powerful paintings. Thanks Steve.

Beej said...

Oh my goodness, those paintings gave me the shivers, especially the second where the mother is holding on to all those things like they are balloons.

Sheila said...

I'm with you Beej, but them I suppose they are meant to disturb our thoughts and emotions and provoke our interest and response.

Steve, I like the quote very much. It seems a recipe for a continued good relationship, that there is always something that you don't know even about the significant other in your life. If you knew everything, how they would always react, wouldn't life be boring, predictable and you'd have to move on.

Four Dinners said...

'The most important thing about a person is always the thing you don't know'

Hey! I know bugger all therefore I'm important!!!

er...I've missed some'at here...