From the far left is a housewife holding her shopping basket, a man in an overall, a barefoot Indian woman nursing a baby, a small boy looking out through the window, a blue-eyed merchant holding a money bag and a young girl with a shawl around her neck.
Frida paints the barefooted Indian mother in a Madonna-like posture while giving the capitalist a proud stance with the bag of money and stereotypical blue eyes. It provides an insight into the differences in Kahlo's Mexican community and her sympathy for society's low and outcasts. It might have been her way of showing the disconnect between different classes of people in her community.
Frida had an accident on a bus in 1925 when the bus she was travelling by was overrun by an electric streetcar, leaving her hospitalised for years. She never spoke of the accident except by describing it as one of the grave incidents in her life. As she got into art, she expressed her life stories and experiences through paintings. As a result, many think that some of the painting's aspects refer to this life-changing incident that disrupted her life forever.
With this background information, the painting seems to depict the tranquillity that precedes calamity. Everybody is going about their routine. The young boy is playfully enjoying the scene of beautifully lined trees and grass fields on what appears to be a cloudy day. One gets a glimpse of La Risa shop through the open door, which means "the Laugh."
Known for her dark humour, many have proposed that The Bus summarises the moment before the accident. They even suggest that the young lady sitting next to the gringo is Frida. She had had a good day with her boyfriend, Alejandro Gómez Arias, which might be what the shop's name that was quickly vanishing in the horizon suggested.
The influence of Diego Rivera
Diego Rivera was Frida Kahlo's mentor and husband when she did The Bus painting. His influence on her political attitudes, especially on capitalism and communism, is evident in the picture. He also considered her one of the best painters of her time.
The Bus by Frida Kahlo is available at Dolores Olmedo Patiño Museum, Mexico City, Mexico. The eponymous museum holds about 25 of Frida Kahlo's paintings alongside other drawings and paintings.