Exploration of the subconscious

In this gallery I have brought together different illustrations of the subconscious experience of man and the effects the subconscious has. All pieces of art were made within four centuries of each other and use different mediums including painting, etching, and drawing. This gallery explores the inner human experience, addressing fears and self distortion while also recognizing the possibility of utilizing the subconscious and psychology to transcend these issues and experience God.

This first piece from Fuseli, which is an oil on canvas painting addresses the unconscious in terms of nightmares. The subject experiences the demons that come from within the self in this nightmare. The turmoil that is experienced deep in the subconscious, for whatever reason, only makes its way to the front once the subject enters the vulnerability of sleep.
Next, Francisco Goya uses etching to address social vices of the time. In this specific work from a large grouping of etches, the artist asleep at the desk is haunted by frightening animals of different shapes and distortion. This piece, in contrast from the last, shows the impacts of society on the self, the subconscious. Although man has many demons that come from within, there are many from the outside that threaten the goodness of virtue within and suggest and tempt with vice. Both pieces have a darkness to them that suggests a nightmare type setting, but differ in the source of turmoil.
This African work from Mnyele shows the sorrow that can be held within man. This is what sometimes inhabits the subconscious and has great impacts of the sense of self. This depiction is very fluid and looks as if the subject is collapsing. This effect is created through crayon and charcoal on paper. It is very effective at illustrating the helplessness that a person with low views of themselves can feel trapped by. Here, one can see a departure from the first two pieces of the gallery in that this is a view from the inside of the subconscious of how the subject sees himself. This is at least a possible interpretation considering it in light of the struggle of the sense of self and the subconscious.
I chose this piece which depicts the dream of St. Joseph as a distinct departure and counterpoint from the rest of the pieces in this gallery. Here Mengs' piece shows the dream of St. Joseph to flee with Mary and Jesus to Egypt. In the previous works, we have seen the negativity and turmoil the subconscious can produce. In this piece we see how the dream state can also produce closeness to God. God sends His angel to St. Joseph through his dream state to guide him and protect his family. This juxtaposition of dreams and nightmares here shows the vast range of perceptions and effects of the subconscious and dreams.
These final three pieces harken back to the self view of the subject that has been previously seen in this gallery. This self-portrait has large and distinct brush strokes as well as texture that can be almost felt. The distortion of the face makes it seem as if it is fading into some background. It is becoming something else. The artist could possibly be seeing himself as going unnoticed by others an unimportant through his own depiction of himself. This self-portrait is a view into the artists view of himself and his own identity.
Gleeson was a Surrealist during the time of World War II who had difficulty with the horrendous tragedies of the war. He felt that looking into the subconscious would allow people to see the value of others and prevent further tragedies from happening. Here is a depiction of the subconscious of the self recognizing the humanity of others.
Here is another piece from Gleeson, but five years later and after much more war trauma. The progression from the previous piece to this is clear, humanity is tearing itself apart through war. This final piece combines the view of the self and the horrors that were committed by man during the war with the nightmares considered in the first two pieces. This nightmarish piece addresses the frightening state that humanity was in and the ultimate distortion of each man that stemmed from something deep within. The stylistic elements of this piece are almost illusionistic. As a counterpoint to this piece and the horrors it portrays a link has been attached to a video of black and white photos that have been edited to depict many different dream like illusions and distortions. The distortions do not show the horrors of man like this piece does, but it does show that in the end, our subconscious can alter and effect our lives, self perceptions, and even our actions. The manipulated photos show how most of our subconscious' distort images in an almost comical way, which is quite different from the seriousness of the pieces in this gallery, particularly this last Gleeson.
Credits: All media
This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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