In 1938, Mexican artist Frida Kahlo painted herself and one of her dogs.
A reproduction of that painting – “Itzcuintli Dog With Me” – hangs on the wall of my house.
It’s a souvenir from our vacation to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, exactly two years ago.
Our strolls around the city were full of Frida imagery.
We even ate at a restaurant El Repollo Rojo (The Red Cabbage) that served foods Frida Kahlo used to make for guests at her own extravagant parties.
Frida Kahlo has always been a favorite artist of mine.
I will never forget hearing her story for the first time, on movie day in my high school Spanish class. The students around me were all screwing off, but I could not tear my eyes from the screen and the tale of an extraordinary and rather wayward woman who lived, loved and worked passionately, for herself and for her people.
During her life, Frida Kahlo’s heart and her body were both broken, but her spirit never was.
Along with food, high art and fellow artist Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo loved animals.
AnOther magazine has a great slideshow of Frida with her many pets, including xoloitzcuintli dogs like the one in the picture I own.
Itzcuintli is the Aztec word for day, and its sign is the dog.
In ancient Mesoamerica, dogs were sometimes buried with humans, presumably to help guide the souls on their journey.
Frida Kahlo’s typically dark work often includes ancient symbolism. She suffered most of her life from compromised health, so it makes sense to me on many levels that this Mexican breed would appear in her self-portrait.
Modern xoloitzcuintli dogs are sometimes used as therapy dogs for people with chronic pain.
I wonder if they helped Frida.
Are you a fan of Frida Kahlo? Who is your favorite artist?
If you don’t know much about Frida, I urge you to watch the 2002 movie about her starring Salma Hayek.For more about Frida Kahlo, check out related posts by InkPaperPen and Dear Kitty.