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The Libanese-Australian playwright James Elazzi on Frida's painting "Without Hope"

10 June 2024

Elazzi decided to discuss Frida Kahlo's Sin Esperanza (Without Hope) for The Influence. The freedom to express your true feelings is embodied in the terrifying scene depicted in the 1945 painting, which features the artist being force-fed by medical professionals.

Here below his words taken by the interview of Neha Kale published on The Saturday Paper: 

Why did you choose Sin Esperanza as your influence?

I used to go to a drama club when I was in Year 7 or Year 8 in the back hall of a church. I loved to stay there as long as I could. There was a piano and a piano seat, and inside the seat there was a pamphlet with this image – and I was in awe of what I was seeing. There was this woman in tears laying on a bed. I was transfixed and tried to create a narrative to go with this image. I don’t come from an artistic family – art was appreciated the generation before me – but I loved this artwork. In my upbringing, it is important to talk about how you feel but there is a boundary and you can’t go past it. There is a lot that goes unspoken. And I felt that this painting – Frida Kahlo’s way of saying so much in her brushstrokes – is so filled with her emotions. I wanted to be that. I wanted to speak about how I feel. And I wasn’t given that freedom to say how I feel.

When you first look at Sin Esperanza, you can mistake it for one of Kahlo’s surrealist self-portraits, but it actually draws from her reality. The work depicts a violent act of force-feeding at the hands of her doctors when she was bedridden after a failed operation.

I think with the artwork itself, it’s that internal struggle. All of these things are coming into her body whether she likes it or not. With my writing and film work as well, you can’t control how the outside world relates to your work and what their opinions are. I write from personal experiences, things that are very close to me – and these are things that I have been through in my life. It’s like opening up a personal diary of mine and saying “this is what I’ve been through”. It’s all in the name of allowing other people to say, I am not alone. That is the reason why I write.

Read the complete interview at this link.