My art history studies are helping me define both my art form and the experience I want to offer the viewer. Abstract expressionism was all about painting as an “event” performed on the canvas. It was heavily influenced by Psychoanalytic concepts like free association and automatism,or acts performed unconsciously. Jackson Pollock was a master of this type of painting.
There are interesting correlations between Hermann Rorschach and Pollock in that they both started a painting with splotches of paint on a blank surface. Rorschach went on to add the further action of folding the blot to produce a bysymmetrical composition. Pollock performed gestural actions to develop his splotches and specifically focused on drips. Art writers have made similar connections between Pollock’s work and Psychoanalysis ( Google Mellon lecture on modern art and abstract painting by Katie taylor. The link that I have does not work). Pollock’s work has been likened to a Rorschach in that his paintings are pieces of art that allow people to look at an ambiguous stimulus and create their own meaning as to what it might be. So, I am in good company I suppose!
In my work I have repeated Rorschach’s approach to the canvas with some minor modifications. I have also brought events to the canvas in that I have had visual associations/reponses to the blot that I drew on the blots themselves. So the work from time to time has been used as a site of action for me.
What I seek most in terms of the viewer’s response is a moment of reflection. I am not like Rothko in the sense of wanting to create a sublime experience for the viewer. I am not God. I want to help people use what they have to create sublime experiences for themselves IF they so choose to have them. I will not make that choice for them. I am as expressionistic as Rothko in my color usage but I want to create a characteristically psychological space for people to encounter themselves. I want them to reflect on the content in their own minds (direct their visual gaze inward) and to emerge from their contemplation to act with a more informed,responsible externally directed visual gaze. ( I will address the concept of visual gaze more fully at a later time.)
I anticipate that some people will say so why turn to art to do that? Why not just keep working with individual patients in the office? Individual patients come with their own agenda and my task as a professional in the mental health field is to help them with their agenda not mine. Plus, this is about more than a few individuals for me. My ambition is to have a cultural impact and art is a better medium than Psychoanalytic therapy for that goal.