Curator’s Review

Radka Salcmannova

In choosing the artists to present in this issue, my decisions took a more personal, perhaps emotional, direction than in previous issues.

As an observer, I found myself especially drawn into the stories of these artists’ work. What was that intangible something about these pieces that made them different from others? What inspired me with so many desires of my own simply by observing them? Why did my interaction with these works of art create such a theatrical event in my head, full of ideas, images and feelings, and the choreography between them? It took me a while to understand that “Why?,” while personally meaningful, wasn’t as important as the idea that certain works of art could provoke a process of self-examination within us.

Curating this issue became like producing a theatrical event in which many performances were happening on different stages simultaneously, with one important distinction: the viewer is an essential part of the theatrical performance. The viewer is both the observer and actor.

The pieces I chose to present, whether performance art, installations, photographs or paintings, in “reality” are nothing but objects or events – paint on a canvas, movement across a room, a pile of lumber – yet they succeed as art not because they are beautiful, but because they encourage us to create a world within our minds that fill us with ideas, feelings, images, conflicts and questions – an irrational, strange, hybrid and fictional world coming directly from our subconscious. Works that achieve this are truly sublime.

It is as if these artists read our thoughts, bringing into focus ideas that were buried deep inside of our psyches. What we may have previously sensed about ourselves comes into consciousness. In a sense, they become “real” through our encounter with the fictional worlds created by these artists. We piece together a narrative based on these once subconscious images, thoughts and emotions that are at the root of who we are.

Few artists create this effect more powerfully than Davor Sanvincenti. Using performance, installation, video and sound, Sanvincenti seems to have shamanistic powers. He creates that which might have been visible if we were able to see the invisible. It is in open space on which he inscribes his imagination and inspires ours. When I viewed his work, it was as if the world as I knew it, with all its ubiquitous uselessness, suddenly disappeared. The work created a sense of extreme tranquility within me. I was alone with myself to experience what seemed almost spiritual. I went backwards in time in my mind, wondering about how the world might have been before humans had so drastically mutilated the environment.

Where Sanvincenti challenges us to re-experience the world, Jolanda Jansen’s art asks us to re-consider the body. By reconfiguring her own body into other forms, she shows us that the body – four limbs and one head – is just an object upon which most of us project shallow, conventional interpretations. Jansen’s work opens our mind to the potential of what a body can be.

On viewing her work, I suddenly realized that what I project from myself out to the world is mostly an illusion. What I see in the mirror is only one facet of a complex self. What if my body actually reflected what I was inside me – my thoughts, emotions, conflicts – the “real” me? I thought about how my body limits my interaction with the world because it excludes such huge elements of myself such as my soul or will. How would I appear if the invisible were visible?

An avid rock climber, the artist Stefan Papco takes us to the tops of mountains, imaginatively and spiritually. In viewing Papco’s recreations of some of the majestic peaks he has scaled, we stand in awe of nature and of man’s fragile relationship to it. I felt similarly when I looked at the images of the sculptures he created of people which he placed in crevices or cliffs of mountains. It was impossible not to think of my own relationship to nature – the longing that I feel to be out among it, often obscured by my city life. And like the other artists chosen for this issue, Papco’s art also inspired me to think of, with some sense of accomplishment, the emotional mountains that I have scaled over the course of my own life.

Dominik Schmitt’s intimate paintings and illustrations are fictional creations of the world. Some are dark fantasy landscapes, others are more humorous. All of them draw us into a universe that is both controlled and unexpected at the same time. People, objects and landscapes appear in unfamiliar ways as to inspire a child-like feeling of surprise. It reminded me that some things in the world are simply magical or fantastical, and they should not be explained; their secrets kept private.

Luca Artioli takes us into the unpredictable world of pure emotions. His images scream out to us. They terrify and humble us. They bring us deeply in touch with our own emotional vulnerability. When we view them, we can deny neither the existence of human pain, nor the memories of our own personal pain. Seen as a series in his book, Beyond the Dark, we experience the extremes of human emotion so vividly that, like his subjects, we are desperate to see the light. Gradually his images lighten, giving us faith in the human capacity to heal.

I am continuously amazed by the enormous possibilities for self-discovery that art, in all its various forms of expression, can provoke in us. Few artists demonstrate this more clearly than Psychology Tomorrow Magazine’s Artist-in-Residence, Bill Hayward. Like a great therapist, in producing his “portraits of self-collaboration,” Hayward takes his subjects through a process of self- reflection which inevitably results in images that reveal the essence of who his subjects are. As a viewer, not only can we appreciate the objective beauty of these images, but we can’t help but to ask ourselves what would we create for such a self-portrait to answer the question of who we truly are.

Like the columns and essays published in this issue, all of the art chosen for this issue serves for the purity of this purpose; to discover who we truly are.