María Izquierdo was a Mexican painter, some people referred to her as “the other Frida”. She is famous for being the first Mexican woman to have her work exhibited abroad, this first exhibition was at the Art Center in New York in 1930.
She committed her life and career to painting the Mexican roots and to have her name among the important figures of the mexicanismo such as Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco or David Alfaro Siqueiros. Izquierdo painted landscapes, still lifes, portraits and self-portraits, some of her works are clearly on surrealist subjects, always characterised by intense colours.
Looking to this painting it is impossible don’t remember most of Frida Kahlo’s self-portraits.
Izquierdo only painted herself with her family or alone. In her self-portraits she wanted to highlight her indigenous features, for instance, by wearing traditional ornaments that she wore also in her daily life. To her it was a gesture of resistance (same as Frida Kahlo) to the accelerated urbanisation of the country, that relegated the traditional clothing to the rank of costume.
In this self-portrait, which was painted in 1940 we can see some of the main characteristics of her work, such as the use of intense colours and that she depicted herself using traditional Mexican clothes, which was part of the patriotic argument of her work at the time.
As part of the group known as the Contemporáneos, which defined alternative concepts of national identity and promote more comprehensive representations of women, in the 1940s she started to paint themes related to Mexican traditions and popular culture as well as displaying the customary contents of Catholic faith in the country, such as home altars or religious festivities, especially those aspects of the culture that were known to be vanishing. It was then when she also started to employ loose brushstrokes and avoid detail on her paintings.