While a lot of my recent artworks are rather bound by earthly design, I’d like to take a look back on the work I was doing based upon my dreams. Particularly the monotype prints, and the paintings that I was producing towards the end of my first academic year at Chelsea college of arts. I feel as though I had a good footing into what could’ve been something well executed, as I was finding means to integrate my practice with the experiences I personally have with my dreams. To demonstrate my experiences previously the sub conscious provided a sufficient driving force behind my creative direction and took me on a journey through Beat Generation writing and poetry, and fed into my monotype series whereby I had an image in my head, but was blind when it came to the production of the image on print as I etched into the ink. These are pictured below.
For the continuation of this series, I’d like the explicitly discuss the true nature of my dreams, nightmares and hallucinations for what they truly are – a sleeping disorder; Parasomnia. Parasomnia is described as a sleeping disorder that pushes the individual into actions that they are completely aware of (at least in my case) that take place while a dream is projected onto the surrounding reality, almost like being trapped in virtual reality. These hallucinogenic experiences have resulted in a lot of anguish, but also a certain amount of intrigue that I’d like to divulge through my artwork, that I have kind of been ignoring for the past year and a half. I’m in the process of creating these works, only on a small scale currently, however I plan to make these larger as final manifestations of what I have seen. I’m intending to capture the whimsicality of these dreams, and how disturbing they can be. Beginning with this poem of an experience I have had in the past few weeks.
In the night he stares
In the daytime I’m unsure of where.
at night his shirt is removed and why,
he’s so small, and round with little hair
the ceiling gone now, I’m in a doll house of some kind.
None of that matters
in possession of the wire that he waves, rubber seal removed at the end.
No sparks, just electricity as it is
he tries to wrap it round my neck
I’m about to die, several times.
This dream recurred throughout the month of November of 2017 at irregular intervals, most of the time it surprised me, but I managed to get used to the character of the dream and felt bored by its persistence. The character became more and more vague as time went on and faded into obscurity, the ceiling became a problem for him, as that was his only way into my bedroom, for he was unable to use conventional doors. This is just one example of dreams and hallucinations born of sleeping disorder, with many more to create upon. I have been taking a look at the work of David Lynch recently, as much of his work is of this vein of whimsicality.
Pierre Alechinsky is a multimedia artist who creates colourful paintings and prints with stark contrasts to black and white ink drawings. Alechinsky was a long time member of CoBrA, a collective that utilised material and its spontaneous use. Alechinsky has come to use a variety of bright aesthetic choices, as shown below “Upon visiting Japan, he adopted the Eastern tradition of pouring ink onto the surface of paper spread out on the floor, rendering his subjects—erupting volcanoes, comically deformed creatures, waterfalls, dynamic skies—with a fluidity influenced by Japanese calligraphy. Personal legal and financial documents and often served as the base material for his works.” I’ve been looking at a lot of Alechinskys’ work as a result of sifting through previous exhibitions. I came across the exhibition ‘Between Dreams and Reality’ at Musee d’Ixelles, which ran from February 26th to May 31st 2015. Alongside Alechensky’s work various other artists such as Rene Magritte, Fernand Khnopff and Juliet Wytsman. Alechinskys’ work stood out to me, due to the delicate nature of the subconscious delivering gestural strokes through calligraphic mark making. The mark making reminded me of experimental work based upon my dreams that I have been producing through oil pastel, emphasising shape and texture through gestural form in a spontaneous way.
Below is one of the previously mentioned experimental drawings, in oil pastel. The below is a hallucingenic dream that I experienced some time last year (2017) whereby there were endless corridors, each smaller than the last, narrowing into one single point. Attempting to go back the way I came, the very thing happened again, so I climbed out of a window. The spontaneous application of oil pastel lends itself well to the dream state, as when you leave a dream, many aspects are blurred or removed from your memory. The sense of claustrophobia in this piece is helped by the two large red-brown walls and the dark space in between. The solid colours are also juxtaposed against a white and sage green tiled floor, which appears to depict movement and also a solitary red-brown tile which matches the walls, disrupting the movement of the tiles in an uncanny way.
The second piece of work that I have created is another dream, which depicted a serene atmosphere, with a strange opulent warmth, there was an empty field and rows of trees. to the right of the path there was irrigation ditch filled to ground level with crystal clear water, I walk parallel to the ditch and involuntarily climb into the water and swim through the calm waters. The wind was howling and in the distance a dark figure stood guard for my arrival. To where? I am not certain. The high winds are depicted through the almost horizontal mark making on the right hand side of the drawing. The dead looking marshland is depicted through the use of ochre colours to show the dead grass. The sky is dark, as it was in the dream depicting a strange surreal lighting to the scene. The greenery in this drawing is suggestive of reality, similarly with the blue stream cutting through the irrigation ditch. It reminds me a lot of home; however the sky is short and dark, cutting the harmony intensely, to match with the dark figure in the mid distance.
The drawing below correlates to the poem written at the beginning of this entry. It depicts the bedroom, the corner that I see when I wake up. It depicts the curtain with some hint of morning light shining through depicted by the warm yellow, however the red border suggests something evil lurks outside. You can see the brown curtain pole, and streaks that cut through the red and yellow vertically to make up the texture of the curtain with the remainder blue surround that represents additional material from the curtains that hang over the radiator, which has been left the white of the paper. This wall is black to emphasise all of these features. The dark red at the bottom of the work depicts the bed covers, with a black glowing fence like structure at the end, which actually represents my small collection of recording instruments. These glow in a golden morning light, representing reality and a more optimistic hope. Behind this is a green wall which makes up the corner of the bedroom, leading the eye of the viewer upward to the ceiling, or at least where it would be if it existed in this reality. The viewer can now see a blue sky, with an opulent summer sun at about 2pm in the afternoon, with non threatening overcast; despite this the dark figure looms. The bald man holding the electrical wire, that he will use to end my life. There is something very final about this image, the colours jerk and feel unsettled; the whole thing is very uncomfortable.
The Fourth work below depicts one of the more harrowing experiences I have had through my hallucinatory dreams. This one came about in the early hours of morning. My eyes were closed and I was under the impression that I was awake luring me into a false sense of security. This was quickly broken when I opened my eyes to a disturbing featureless face, free of any human restraints; it was calm in its expression however. I flung about the place in a desperate attempt to run; the face of this thing was attached to a neck, which seemed to curl around itself and go about the room. It was still, but attached to the body of a man, again colourless in its existence. I ran frantically and opened the curtain, flooding the room with a dull light. The figure was gone and I was left on my own at around 4 am on a February morning. The drawing below can be separated into two parts, much how it is across two pages of one sketchbook. The right hand side of the work can be seen as built up, and a little hectic. The slanted blocks of colour in the right-bottom corner represent my old bed covers, which I am certain I was using at this time. These are offset further with the blocky elements of dark green and pink, which depict a chest of drawers and shelving, like the layout of my room in my family home, with a blob of pink towards the middle to show discarded clothing. This is where the figure resides in this situation, between the bed and the drawers, this gives a feeling of suffocation on this side of the drawing, like a blocked exit. The drawing is then carried along by the directional line work of the laminate flooring, which is separated through application of various browns and yellows. The wall of the room is black in this situation, to suggest a night time or early morning with the small yellow rectangle letting in the light of the morning. This is all balanced by the neck of the creature, and the head which gives a claustrophobic feeling on both sides of the work with no escape.
The next drawing from this series pictured below is a depiction of a not harrowing experience but a dazzling one. I awoke to a green glow in coming from the hallway, of course I got out of bed to go and see where the light was coming from, stumbling around in a daze I noticed small green notches coming from the walls. These notches were about two inches long and up and down the walls vertically glowing with a tacky sort of alien halloween glow. Stumbling around the corner into the kitchen where this drawing is set, I was shocked to see the entire room was covered in these, especially the fridge which can be seen to the right hand side of the drawing, with the green lines moving downwards to the ground. It was interesting to have an experience that was somewhat placid and didn’t place me in any immediate danger.
The 6th installation of this series is seen below in diptych format, a two part description almost. The top resembles the state I am in during my sleeping hours and the second part depicts a recalled childhood memory of the location I was visiting. The location for this drawing is Scotland where I visited around September 2017. During the time I was hallucinating, I experienced that the ceiling was coming down, much like in an Indiana jones movie, except the other figure that was in the room with me slammed the door and locked it leaving me inside with no way out while the other character watched through the window. The ceiling in this depiction has been etched upon with crude cloud drawings which represent the fact that this is the ceiling, with the red downward strokes giving the viewer a sense of entrapment. The Tile like texture on the bottom right wall depicts a state of disarray and discomfort towards what is about to happen, with the pencil on the opposing side showing scratched pencil marks which give a feeling of dread. The whole thing comes together as quite uncomfortable to look at. Below, it is almost the opposite state of affairs, whereby two landscapes are depicted side by side, one of the hills I once climbed regularly, and the harbour that was owned by my great uncle.
These are works that I plan to elaborate on through large scale works, representing something of a tapestry, a large rectangle. The textures seen in the above works will be sprawling, interwoven with the details of hallucinogenic dreams that I experience. I will also be looking at the strange and uncanny, looking at authors such as H.P. Lovecraft, Kafka and David Lynch. Previous work of mine has explored these themes, through analogue photography and projection which have produced works that are also demonstrative of the feelings that I get from my dreams.
I’d like to make comparisons between the dream state that I experience and reality, giving these kinds of works tangible anchors in the real world. This could be carried out through juxtaposition of some kind through painting, as I would like to continue producing my picturesque paintings and drawings alongside the more surreal oneiric works. Work from 2017 may be suitable for this kind of application, due to the fact that they are more contemplative. To highlight the disturbing nature of my visions I believe it is a good choice from a theoretical point of view to highlight the contrast between the two worlds I seem to occupy, much like the title of the exhibition I researched ‘Between Dreams and Reality’. Through this I would find ways to link the two together.
The images above are depictions of situations from reality, not set in the oneiric realm of my hallucinatory experiences. These offer a contrast between the surreal works at this point in time. The images are stoic and offer a sense of longing in their everyday nature. The first image on the top left hand side is of my younger brother. The image is based on an image that I captured on a disposable camera a couple weeks before leaving home to live in London back in 2015. There is a sense of nostalgia and yearning that comes with this image, of which was probably magnified by the fondness of the time and that the image was salvaged from a roll of old film that I was unaware was still intact. The second image along to the right hand side is a self portrait of myself in bed. The painting depicts the bright red of the covers against the manilla and beige tones of the walls in a lazy and relaxed poise. The painting depicts a calmer time continuing the theme of contrast between reality and dream. The image has an ironic dull feel to it, again highlighting the every day – similarly to the painting of the leg in the shower, beautifying duller moments in life. Despite the calm in this painting the diamond patterned bath rug mirrors the patterns that can be seen in the oil pastel drawings of my dream drawings, which is an interesting parallel
Going from the parallels between my dreams and my reality I have decided to move towards memories. Memories are something that do not reside in the present, just in the mind therefore having the same presence as a dream. Much like we cannot remember the full extent of our dreams, the same things happen with memories; they are pushed down to make room for the present moment and the future moment. One of the main differences between dream and memory however, is the way that dreams can be very dull and humdrum or very intense and hallucinogenic, while the act of recalling a memory is quite a self contained and aware action. When the human mind is concerned, the very fine details of memory can be censored to be replaced by a romanticised version. Through my practice I am attempting to figure out a way to push the act of remembrance into the realm of dream, by beginning works with no source material at all and no plan in order to activate the sub conscious mind. The first work to use this can be seen below, not yet finished but at various stages of completion. The image began from the image to the left. It can be seen that the implementation of the checkered blue textures making up the swimming pool have been taken from my previous drawings pertaining to oneiric experiences. This was the starting point for me, as it put me into a trance like state of mind applying the repetitive pattern to make up what would be the water distorting the swimming pools’ lining. The work was then slowly put together out of a1 sheets of paper, one page at a time, which was due to space limitations but also represents a fragmentation of memory over time. To the right, another updated version of the work depicts a continuation of the swimming pool, and then underneath that version can be seen a plan of the rest of the image to give me a rough guideline. From this simple pattern my sub conscious mind seemed to access a memory of the childhood home where I grew up in Wichita Falls Texas.
Having produced the beginnings of what will be a large scale drawing, I searched my old Texan address on the internet and found a realtor that had the house up for rent/sale, with pictures detailing the house. I jumped at this opportunity to get as many images as I could to compare what I had produced so far from memory with the real location. As it is clear there are many differences pertaining to colour and form, but I feel that the spirit of the location is preserved through my work so far using my memory of the place combined with the aesthetic I have developed through work based upon hallucinogenic dreams.
Built in 1979
439 days on Trulia
Great location in Wichita Farms just off of Southwest Pkwy. Very nice three bedroom, two bath home with two car garage. Open family room with wood burning fireplace. Large privacy fenced back yard. Salt water pool with fence around. 1632 sq. ft. of living space. So well kept. New flooring in family area. Vinyl siding, sprinkler system. Surround sound, outside speakers.”
Above is the information about the house, which will be printed or drawn out in someway in order to highlight the relationship between the maker, the home and the viewer.