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  • Lea Springstead

Friday Night Projections of The Collective Subconscious

Updated: Nov 27, 2020

Carl Jung postulated that human religion, stories, and myths are populated by projections of the "collective unconscious". Figures like Jesus and Zeus were archetypal representations of the fundamental human soul that we all share. Their adventures are metaphors for the journey that each individual must subsume, in order to fully experience what it means to be human and self-actualize.


Contrary to assumed conspiracy theories (I'm sure they're out there), an authoritarian literary comity, that defines and regulates the parameters of the expression of the human collective, in order to satisfy the needs of some illuminate dignitary, does not exist. The synchronicity of archetypal themes throughout religion, mythology, and other stories happens organically.


Like the timeless myths and religious allegory of antiquity, humanity also projects it’s collective subconscious through art.


By applying the lens of subconscious projection, the perception of a work of art is slighted towards the rectification of the subconscious. This trajectory may not be in line with the artist’s conscious statement or perception of their own work. Applying any lens to art creates and air of liability: in an attempt to expeditiously access the most delectable depths of meaning, the viewer may totally eclipse the intended "light" of the work. Yet approaching a work with anxiety about refraining from applying a lens may prevent intimacy from taking place at all.


Remember: there are no rules here, except for the ones that we set for ourselves.


Are there works of art that are exempt from drawing on the collective unconscious?

Is it possible to separate from the unconscious when consciously creating art?

If not, then should there be an order of interpretation?

First the collective implications, then read into the artist’s statement, or the other way around?


Or does prioritizing the defragmentation of abstract consciousness miss the point of whatever is really going on? Probably the latter.


Last night, at the Wired Gallery in High Falls, NY, was the opening reception for Kerhonkson, NY based artist Raul Serrano.


Large scale paintings exemplified a spectrum of technical execution, with an emphasis on gesture and delineated stylistic themes and narratives.


The paintings on display demonstrated a sophisticated use of color and light, while working within the cross currents of primitive yet emotionally urgent brush strokes throughout the canvas. I wondered if the variations in stylistic execution were intentional, part of the philosophical arch of the collection, or was this theme a projection of the subconscious? The unavoidable saunter of the duality of humanity: we are apart and as a whole a glittering macabre mosaic of good and evil, beautiful and repulsive, intellectual and oblivious.

Raul’s paintings, heavy with symbolism, more surreal than abstract, more gestural than explicit, are images that evoke implication rather than testament, which leaves room for uninhibited interpretation, which is what we may all need in our lives, the scope of possibility is alluring.


While I did meet the artist, I didn’t get into a deep of a conversation about the “truth” of his art. Given the vast implicative consciousness of Raul's work, maybe the point would have been moot anyway.


As an empath, I was too concerned with whether or not the artist wanted to be asked about his work or not.


I shied away from layering my academic musings into the moment, and instead helped myself to another glass of wine and some sort of multi-grain rice cracker with tomatillo dip, and retired to the porch to take notes and admire the golden light of late summer seeping through what will be the last sight of green for another two seasons of change.




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