Given the title In/Side/Out, the exploration of internal and external worlds, I wanted to explore the theme of dreams. This is a subject I have wanted to create work from for a while since I frequently have vivid and emotive dreams.
I began by drawing some imagery from some dreams that I have had that have been significant to me to visualise what I could possibly include in my painting or sculpture. This includes a scene of a hotel room at night with a ferris wheel in daylight outside a window, myself trapped in a fish tank with dead fish floating past my face, a couple sat upon the top of a skyscraper, a several stories high army tank rolling past a street and a gunman. Then with this imagery I roughly used Photoshop to decide an overall composition for my painting. I found Photoshop to be a very useful tool for this process and I have used Photoshop as an efficient planning tool in my past work. With this visual plan for my painting being digital it allowed me to experiment with the composition, sizing and subjects. I’m glad I used this process because at first I tried to include all of the imagery I had thought of but I found that overall it was way too crowded and visually overwhelming. From this point I removed a few of the motifs that I had started off with and left just a couple of the images from my dreams. I found that the resulting image was equally as effective, if not more relevant to what I wanted because it became more ambiguous like dreams are. I also found that it was more relevant to my artistic inspiration, which was Surrealism, which was celebrated for its thematic dream-like distortion of reality.
The artists that I looked at for this project are all prestigious Surrealist artists. I decided to look at Surrealist work because Surrealism explores the creativity of the unconscious mind, a lot of which is depicted in strange dream-like landscapes. The first artist I looked at was Giorgio de Chirico, whom I discovered in my research was actually a major influence on a few of the other artists I researched. I really like de Chirico’s work, particularly ‘The Uncertainty of the Poet’. I found the symbolism in this painting quite subtle, at first just an accumulation of seemingly irrelevant objects in an obscured, partly normal landscape. I found the overall feeling of the painting to be calming, not without motion but there is a feeling of stillness, certainly a feeling that can be felt in dreams of a lighter atmosphere.
The second artist I studied was René Magritte. Purely aesthetically, I really like his work. I love the serenity in his paintings and his colour palette. I found ‘Empire of Light’ coincidentally very relevant to my dream about the ferris wheel in daylight outside a hotel room shrouded in nighttime darkness. I liked that contrast between day and night and the similarity between Magritte’s piece and my own idea allowed me to gain inspiration from his existing piece. I like how Magritte’s intention behind his work was to have an effect on the viewer, to create a challenge against people’s instincts in a light humourous manner.
Another artist I looked at was Max Ernst, who I found extremely interesting for his interest in Sigmund Freud’s dream theories. Ernst seemed to have a curious mind and thought outside the box, not wanting to conform to tradition and even discovered frottage. Sigmund Freud’s theories that Ernst was interested in described that every action we make is influenced by our subconscious and the impulses we do not act on are released in our dreams because in our dreams there are no consequences to these dangerous impulses. Ernst’s experimentation with automatic painting to access his subconscious is very interesting and considering how the subconscious is related to our dreams it adds a powerful perspective to his work.
The fourth artist I looked at was Francesco Clemente. I found Clemente’s work very busy, like there was a lot to take in. I like how his work varies in theme, composition and colour. His work is certainly surreal and provocative, therefore powerful. I thought that maybe Clemente’s work could be helpful when it came to composition in my work.
My sculpture is inspired by a recurring motif in my dreams where I am being attacked and my only form of defence is to slit the throat of my attacker with whatever I am holding in my hand. These dreams were particularly striking with me because of the violence as I feel I’m not a very violent person but perhaps the defensive violence in my dreams could be exposing some fear and feelings of vulnerability that I harbor. I decided that for my sculpture I would create a cast of some necks and I would slit the throat and have objects falling from the wound, which would be the surreal aspect to the pieces. I opted to include pencils because I have used pencils in these dreams as my weapon, flowers for the second because I thought that the juxtaposition between the slit throat and the flowers would be effective and the third would be toy fish. I encountered a problem with my idea for the third sculpture when the fish I bought online didn’t arrive and the other option I experimented with was unsuccessful. In the end I decided to not use a third sculpture because I felt that the two I had already done were sufficient in portraying what I wanted to.
Overall I am rather pleased with the direction I headed in with my project. It was quite difficult to pinpoint exactly what I wanted to do because dreams are such a broad subject so it’s a topic I would like to explore again in my work at some point. Despite encountering some problems I feel that I persevered quite well and I am happy with the way that my pieces came out. I realized that I had forgotten to take photos of my progress throughout production which I’m disappointed with because I know that could have strengthened my development. However I am satisfied with the outcome of this project and enjoyed this topic.