Sunday, January 17, 2010
Pictures in an Exhibition
The interesting thing about this dream is the relationship between two paintings: one made up in a dream while sleeping; the other designed in the normal way while awake.
The Dream: I have some pictures in an exhibition. The space is not very elegant—something like a community room. The work is poorly presented. After the show has finished I go to retrieve my paintings, and only one is still hanging. I secretly hope this means they have sold, as unlikely as that would be in this venue. I keep looking for my paintings. Finally I find one: looking at it I consider it inept and wonder why I put it in the exhibit. The upper portion has four angular biomorphic shapes in strong colors. There is a line of writing underneath, with a circular flower-like motif to its left. The writing is obscure, and I don’t get the meaning. The lower portion of the painting has less defined shapes and softer colors.
I’m embarrassed by this painting as I continue to look for the others. I’m told, at last, that they are in another room. I go into a storage room and find paintings stacked on top of one another, lying in a heap on top of a counter. I wonder why they have done such a sloppy job dismantling the show. Why aren’t the paintings carefully tipped against the wall, as is usual when an exhibit is struck? I look through the stack and find The Portal. I am very relieved to find it, despite my earlier wish that something had sold. The painting has a drop of water on it. I’m afraid it’s been damaged, but I think I can rescue it.
Interpretation: Oh dear, quite a lot of artist’s anxiety on display in this one. I am showing inept work in a cheesy, badly run gallery where nothing sells and the work is not respected. Could it get any worse? But one thing is interesting, the painting that my unconscious offered up in the dream and the one I had painted previous to having the dream both have a similar construction—notice the levels.
To analyze this dream in Jungian terms, it’s presenting two pictorial representations of the mind’s organization. The painting reproduced from the dream and The Portal both depict the layers of conscious and unconscious material that combine to make up the totality of the psyche, what Jung called the Self. In The Portal the small figures at the bottom represent the unconscious in its attempt to communicate; in the dream picture the amorphous regions of the unconscious give way to the structured biomorphic forms. The dream picture turns The Portal’s structure upside down. The drop of water that I fear has damaged The Portal? I think Jung would call this contamination with unconscious material.