The Mexican artist Frida Kahlo built her impressive reputation on a solid foundation of self portraiture. Her enigmatic images of her own heavy browed face cheek to jowl with exotic animals back dropped into lush jungle like environments wove a mysterious story that would tug the viewer into a dragnet of tropical mystery. Was this her conscious intention or was Frida simply following her artist fancy down this Freudian jungle path?
A lot is made of Vincent Van Gogh’s emotional instability and yet when you look into the eyes of any of his 36 self portraits you see the unflinching gaze of a man with a singular focus to use oil paint as it had never been handled before. The act of staring into a mirror is a potent act of self love. In fact looking into a mirror with the expressed purpose of enhancing one’s self image has become a common practice for many and is referred to as ¨mirror work¨. These very personal paintings Vincent left behind are shockingly beautiful and every day more and more people discover them and are enriched by their aesthetic power.
Jean-Michel Basquiat made very primitive self portraits that are also humble depictions as this one here which is titled “Self portrait as a heel , part 2”. If Julian Schnabel‘s portrayal of Basquiat in his film from 1996 is at all accurate we can say that yes Jean-Michel had some self destructive impulses that he battled that eventually won out but he also had the capacity for a very confident swagger that is powerfully evident in his self portraits where a mirror (unfortunately) was never used.
Dr. Joe Dispenza who is celebrated for his best selling books: Becoming Supernatural, You are the Placebo and Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself is often saying ¨Where we put our attention is where we put our power.¨ So if this is really true then is it any wonder that these artists who spent so many hours with the self focus required to create these many carefully executed self portraits became world renown cultural leaders who’s combined legacies only become more impactful with each passing year as yet another generation of art lovers discover thier work?