She used symbolism in her paintings and she involved her dreams into those paintings. The painting, Self Portrait 1923, is an oil on canvas painting and among some of the early portraits by Frida Kahlo.
The theme of Love and Affection
The painting depicted the emotional tension and she used it as a token of love so that she could regain her lover's affection. She started to work on this painting around 1922, a time when her relationship with Alejandro was starting to turn sour since Alejandro was thinking that she was too liberal. At the same time, she would send letters to him and assure him that she will change into a better person who he deserved.
Once she completed the portrait in 1923, she wrote a letter to Alejandro informing him that the portrait will be delivered to his house in a few days without a frame. In the letter, she instructed him to place the portrait in such a low place that he would feel like he was looking at her.
In the self-portrait, Frida Kahlo appears wearing a white and light violet dress and resembles a princess in it. She sent the portrait to his lover and hoped that it would help keep her in his mind. Interestingly, this painting worked – soon after the painting was received by Alejandro, they reconciled and went to be together once again. However, in March 1927, Alejandro left for Europe because his parents were very opposed to him being together with Frida Kahlo.
In Self Portrait 1923, Frida Kahlo uses a folk style and colorful clothing to pass across her message. She wears an elaborate Mexican dress which was Alejandro's favorite perhaps in a bid to reignite his admiration for her. Her face looks innocent to symbolize her purity.
The traditional attire she is wearing can also allude to a revolution by Mexican artists who worked during the revolutionary period which saw them the influence of Europeans and instead preferred the roots of their country and folk traditions. This painting is a great example of the Mexican "vernacular" paintings that are known as retablos. They were devotional images of the saints or virgins painted on tins.