The Royal Academy of Arts, London, is currently holding an exhibition to both record and celebrate the artistic career and lifetime of Pablo Picasso. The exhibition starts at the beginning of his artistic career when he attended the Fine Arts School in Barcelona where he father worked. Picasso was only thirteen years old when he attended the school and so clearly had a keen interest in art from a young age.
The exhibition was intriguing because it acted as a timeline exploring the different stages and experimental periods during the artist’s lifetime. During his early years Picasso studied expressionism through his work with many studies of hands, figures and self portraits. ‘The Artist Drawing and studies of hands’, 1897-99 [figure 1] is one of the pieces found in the exhibition which I found interesting because it is a simple study created during his Expressionism period. The use of crayon and charcoal on paper has created a simple piece with little detail. Picasso has used shading and tone in the piece but has refrained himself from added detail. The style of Picasso’s work throughout most of his career refrains from great detail and focuses more on simple yet effective tone and shading. Not only this, Picasso regularly used single lines to outline the body of the work without using lots of little lines. By doing this, the artist is only capturing the single lines of the model and not creating what I would see as more movement by adding a few lines in an attempt to capture the figure. The singular line does however, form a clear fluidity to the work.
For me, there is not one stage of his career which is most inspiring and relevant to me because when walking around the exhibition I focuses mostly of the hands within pieces and the studies of hands which he produce throughout his lifetime. Within the different eras, the hands are shaped, contoured and even how they are interpreted. Picasso, whilst exploring Expressionism will have interpreted a hand differently than during his exploration for Surrealism.
The exhibition focused on the way Picasso used drawing and painting on paper. The exhibition showed how he used anything and everything to create his art especially during the war where materials were limited. It is evident in his work that he used paper of different sizes, qualities and even torn pieces within his work. This type of work is relevant to myself because this is the style I enjoy creating because I feel it creates texture and detail into the work sometimes without needing to add too much pencil, paint of charcoal.
Egon Schiele, the Austrian painting from the 20th century is well known for his pornographic, disturbingly sexual artworks of both females and males. The artist spent much time life drawing using models with a close relationship to himself including his wife, mistresses, sister and sometimes prostitutes he would pull n from the streets of Vienna. Schiele idolised and later was gifted with the chance to work with Gustav Klimt, another Austrian artist. The two painters focused on elongating the human body, which is evident in Schiele’s work.
I decided to look at the way Egon portray hands because I find he produced very elongated, boney lengthy hands which create a disturbing creepy feeling to his way of working. I think this stems from his ideology of never taking his eyes away from the model especially during life drawing. Schiele did this because I believe he had a strong connection between his hands and his eyes and so his eyes trusted his hands to interpret what he saw. The way he produces hands is fascinating because in many of his works, the pen does not leave the paper and creates long figurative works with curls and movement. The intense areas where he uses the pen a lot create the wrinkles and knuckles on the work.
The Austrian figurative painter Egon Schiele, created works with interesting and different hand gestures. The hands may not have necessarily been the centre of the work but they truly add a twist to the work. The hands in his work have been described as being ‘dislocated and unnatural’. The distortedness of his hands creates a mood within the work because the shape, angle and intensity of the gesture can determine the mood of the figure in the piece. The way Schiele has angled and shaped the hands has created a ugly yet quite beautiful hand.
For my final exhibition I was quite troubled for ideas because although I love producing hand drawings using charcoal, I wasn’t sure how to confine them into an idea. After talking with tutors and other students about what we use our hands for. Gestures and language use the hands on. regular basis.
Signal language is used everyday by more and more people in today’s society because it is the biggest aid for the hearing impaired. I have spoken to a student who has struggled with a hearing impairment throughout her childhood however, she did not find out about the condition until she was fifteen years old. I asked her about how it affected her mental health and whether knowing she had the condition helped or whether it made things worse. She replied with a decline in her mental health and that it prevented her from her future career in the RAF. She explained how now she has comes to terms with it and has had surgery to help with this disorder. I asked how growing up was difficult, with a reply of “I was tested for iron deficiency and anaemia because I would always come home from school super tired but it was actually from trying to lip read all day”.
I have decided to create a few different phrases with my drawings. The first sequence I am drawing is “I am fine”, a phrase constantly used by people who aren’t actually ‘fine’. The reason for creating this kind of art is to link it back to art therapy and how an individual could express these phrases they may say to their therapists through artistic creation.
For the third part of my hand sequences I decided to draw an image halfway between the two other hands. This is a more clenched hand whether the palm and nails are still visible. I wanted to produce this piece because I feel it completes the sequence of these hand drawings. The drawings within this collection show a progression to the clenching of an individuals hand to form a fist. The reason behind these drawings was to portray depth and intensity within the hand along with the use of the compressed charcoal to form this intensity. I am fascinated by the way the hand is distorted to form this shape and how it wrinkles and crumples up during the clenching process. At this stage, this is the reasoning behind this collection.
This is the only hand that I have completing finished because I was interested in the depth and intensities of the palm as it clenched into itself. The intensity of the charcoal in this image draws out the lines and wrinkles in the hand. The compact charcoal has created a deepness to the work which draws the eye into the work and creates the 3D effect to deepen the work.
I may complete the other two drawings however, they are simply experiments at this time. By completing the other two parts will form the sequence and is a potential idea for my exhibition show.
For my final show I am thinking about including a video of myself producing a large scale drawing. I wanted to do this because I feel it will be able to show the physical movement I have to make in order to create my work. I feel with the video and my large drawings it will give the essence of what I am trying to get across to my audience. I want to show to the audience the physical and mental strength needed for this sort of work. I am experimenting with drawings of my own hands at the moment because I feel hands tell a lot about a person. Each part of your body has a recuperating part on the hand and so can tell a lot about the individual. I am also producing drawings of a friend looking at the way she can distort her body to show her ribs and bones.
I decided to experiment with film. Here I have experimented with a time lapse of a drawing because I thought it would be a good way to show this idea I have. Using a time lapse is interesting because not only does it allow me to see the way I work from a far but, also makes it a great way to show to the audience how I produce my work.
However, I want my video to be shown on an old-school TV in black and white. The time lapse idea is however, to modern day the machine and would cause controversy in my idea.
My dissertation is an interesting subject because the definition and ideas behind it was still somewhat unknown and there are many approaches which can be explored to try to find an answer. Many psychologists have expressed their own ideas based on the knowledge already known as well as their own experience of the subject. I was really interested in investigating a range if different psychologists and explore their approaches because it would help to broaden my own knowledge of the topic. It was really interested especially the views of Kramer and Naumburg because of how they perceive art therapy. Whether ‘art is therapy’ or a factor under psychotherapy is a debate which I have investigated in my dissertation because they are two views which present different ideologies. Each idea is bias to itself but having looked into them I believe they both hold strong factors which strengthen the definition of art therapy. The broadness of the definition is what I believe makes art therapy a fascinating subject to have picked for my dissertation. I wanted to explored a range of psychologists including the two above as well as Sigmund Freud and Elinor Ulman. The really interesting part about most of these theorist is, they are also artists who have either experienced the ‘powers of art’ or have seen the effects all those around them. The different experiences and study range in all ages, abilities and cultures which makes the subject more diverse.
As well as exploring these ideologies from psychologists, I also wanted to explore past and present artists who have suffered with mental illness and had/have evidenced it in their work. The reason for this chapter of the dissertation was to give evidence for the subject and to explore the different ways different artist have express their feelings and emotions. I wanted to include real examples of the topic and provide some supporting evidence for the different uses and ways of showing it. Their artwork paints a picture for the audience and conveys a range of emotions. I think this is interesting because it is evident in the work where they gain their inspiration from and how they are trying to make said inspiration visual. The visual depiction helps the painter, sculptor, to create the emotions and to almost give them an identity. I decided to used four different artists in the piece, past and current artists because I think it gave a wide enough variety of different people with totally different experiences. Van Gogh simply conveyed his mental state at the time in his paintings and choice colours, tones, shapes within the painting which he felt were right at the time. Tracey Emin however, using art as a reminder for her reckless antics in her life. The reminders are not there to bring back that moment on time but to express the importance of remembering the good and the bad times in your life.
What would I do in the future to improve my essay?
I want to continue exploring the subject by researching more psychologists, art therapists and artists who may not necessarily express they are using art as therapy but, who I think could be. I will also be carrying out work experience which will help me to understanding the subject more and have first hand involvement in a therapeutic setting. In the future I want to research the work of Naumburg and Kramer because I believe their different approach hold interesting and very relevant ideas. This will also open me up to more researchers and expanding the knowledge on the topic. By obtaining more information, I feel it will help me with different clients and enable me to adapt my guidance depending on the client. Whether I want to approach the client in a more ‘psychotherapeutic’ way or to focus on the idea that the art making itself is therapeutic. The more detailed exploration of psychologists will help me in the future with my own career and give me the base line to potentially publish my own ideas which could be the basis for someone else.