“Although I’m using reality and the visual world outside, I am always wanting to change it, I realise . . . It wants to have a whole lot of other echoes to do with the imagination. (Glover in Townsend 2019: 68).
So, I think what Townsend is suggesting is that artists that do not wish to simply produce a literal representation of what they see somehow merge an extract of that external world and recreate it using their internal world. I found this very interesting, and I would argue that my work is in this category, as I reduce the external world at the loch to small vignettes of the reeds, the reflections and the shapes and patterns and use them as metaphors for my internal world or to represent a world that Skye reveals to me, that most people never see. What Townsend, I think, is describing is a transformation of the subject through the mind of the artist. But this transformation also suggests a deconstruction – that the visual world – the sensory world has to be taken apart.
Townsend describes her own work in Morecambe Bay where she had focussed on the patterns of channels in the sand and how each passing tide reformed these through the action of the sea. She also speaks of abstracting and isolating her chosen elements in order to break the tie to everyday existence (such as the wider shoreline). As I said above, I focus on the shapes and patterns of the water and the reeds of Loch Cill Chriosd and I also attempt to de-couple the reeds and reflections from the wider literal representation. Michael Podro argues that this process involves an aggressive rather than receptive response by the artist. The deconstructed fragments of the scene and the artists inner world must be fused in a new presentation of the subject in the outside world. Donald Winnicott, the psychoanalyst, refers to this practice as ‘living creatively’ (Winnicott 1990) when an artist seeks to find meaning in their encounters with the outside world. In doing this, the artist must break it down before recreating it in a way that has meaning to them.
TOWNSEND, Patricia. 2019. Creative States of Mind: Psychoanalysis and the Artist’s Process. Abingdon: Routledge.
WINNICOTT, D W. 1990. Home is where we Start from. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Perhaps a good example of aggression in art is Bacon, who deformed and twisted bodies to represent the figures lurking within his violent imaginary.
Surely, the visionary or pioneering artist sublimates and expresses a kind of antisocial contempt for the world he sees around him; dashes it apart to structure it in an order he regards as superior to the settled representations that surround him. (although in Bacon’s case, perhaps this is more to do with subjectivising his father’s cruelty)
For me, the analyst who represents artistic process best is an anti-analyst: Deleuze. The artist rips open life, tears organs out of bodies and creates frankenforms that embody his repurposing of nature. He appropriates, de-forms and re-forms life to his representational ends.