It’s fascinating as a psychiatrist to see how people react to particular paintings in an immediate, visceral and nonconceptual way. That’s an indicator yet again of how the Unconscious reacts to something instantaneously and the Conscious Mind plays catch up, trying to verbalise and analyse what is causing the sense of attraction (or repulsion). This is the link between art and psychiatry / neuroscience.
There are at least two paintings in my show that explore the yellow hues. When I bring people through my studio, these colours seem to have a very powerful effect. Even a mood enhancing effect? I wonder why? In Asia, Buddhist monks wear golden or ?yellow robes. When I am at the art shop, I find myself attracted to the yellow hues, especially cadmium yellow. I think this is a more intense yellow. This is a favourite mood elevating yet calming colour for me. I believe this is because it is strong in intensity (meaning emotionally energised) and not worn out or drained.
Often I find myself experiencing or remembering a great book where talking about it means nothing compared to painting it. Yes, that’s right, I try to “paint the book”. This means trying to capture the essence of the narrative of the book, the atmosphere, the landscape. This book “The Discovery of the Unconscious” is one of those great tomes about something hard to get your head around. It’s a book that attempts to explain how psychotherapists developed a working relationship with the deeper levels of the mind. So deep that its existence had to be “discovered”. Definitely worth a read.
“A piece of creative writing, like a day-dream, is a continuation of, and a substitute for, what was once the play of childhood.” Freud
The same goes for any creative activity. It’s about retaining the freedom and humour and sense of awe we had as children. It’s also about expressing the darkness of childhood and the nightmares the child experiences with such a sense of reality. They later take on tangible forms in adulthood. Such as loss, betrayal, depression and disease.
From a series of paintings, this one percolated up from thoughts of the Unconscious. The great book by Ellenberger “The Discovery of the Unconscious” is about how the psychoanalysts started seeing this part of ourselves as a thing.
I am painting lines to suggest a power, a machine. I am imagining Jung’s dream of the Unconscious in his memoirs when he walks down the stairs into the earth, to see an altar. I am also thinking about the computer in the film 2001 attaining mindhood.
so these are the associations I have in this work.
LATER….I love it when friends see more than I was consciously aware of. After I posted this, one friend brought up associations with a part of the deep brain (the amygdala) that connects to deep memories and is physically located close to the olfactory parts of the brain. Smell is a strong link to memories. Synaesthesia is a fascinating condition, when sight is linked to smell, for example, or sound to smell.
Another friend felt there was an association in this painting with some kind of crusade. Well, it definitely does attempt to express the idea of a machine in the depths of the unconscious mind.
“Wearing Short Sleeves at Work”…I have a dear friend, a leader in his medical speciality. He once reminded me that even though we put on a certain professional role at “work”, the power of healing in psychiatry comes from maintaining authenticity to oneself and therefore to our patients. It was exactly what I thought in my own mind. Wearing short sleeves at work refers to being a little more open and less hidden behind a role, a uniform, a tone. It’s good to have friends like this…they are like angelic guides (and this, even though he is a strong atheist). The painting exudes happiness because it is about a sense of ultimate freedom.
“Not Everyone Will Like You”…and this refers to the reality that the authentic self may invite criticism, but that’s okay. So the tones are again joyous.