(This writing were published from the catalogue exhibition 'Arti 4: Figuratif Psikodinamik' 22 September - 21 Oktober 2011 . Published by Arti Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.)
“Art can alleviate feelings of trauma, fear or anxiety, to repair, restore and heal”
Psychodynamics is a theory and study on energy system of the psychology of human actions, especially those related to mental consciousness and unconsciousness. Psychologist Sigmund Freud has developed the theory of psychodynamics in depicting ‘the mind process’ that is driven by psychological energy ‘libido’ (lust of a conscience).
Psychodynamics is also a combination of psychology and dynamics. Psychology is the study about thought and mental processes, especially in relation to human and specific group behaviours, while dynamics is energetic and with strength capable to progress and adjust. Hence dynamic psychology is a study of the relationship between various parts of the mind, personality or psyche that are closely related to mental, emotional and motivational especially at the unconscious level.
Mental forces involved in psychodynamics are often divided into two i.e the first force is emotional interactive forces which involve interactions that evoke emotional and motivational forces affecting behaviour and the way of thinking especially on a subconscious level, the second force are inner forces affecting behaviour which stimulate emotional and motivational forces affecting behaviour and way of thinking.
Psychodynamics has several features amongst others (i) our behaviour and feelings dominated by stimulus of the subconscious, (ii) behaviour and adult feelings (including those with psychological problems) rooted from his experience as a child, (iii) all behaviours have a reason (usually unconsciously) even whenenever unwitting utterances are made they are all determined by behaviour, (iii) personality is divided into three i.e id, ego and superego, (iv) behaviour driven by instinct forces, Eros (sensuality and sense of life) and Thantos (aggressive and death instincts). Both are driven by ‘id’. (v) A part of the unconscious mind (id and superego) is always in conflict with the conscious (ego) and personality is shaped and steered from different conflicts of childhood (during psychosexual development).
Although psychodynamics is one of the clinical studies in psychoanalysis theory which is being practised by way of psychoanalytical studies, it has been developed by Freud’s other followers such as Carl Jung (1964), Adler (1927), and Erikson (1952). Presently in the 21st century, psychodynamics is an evolving multi-disciplinary field which analyses and studies on humanity, response patterns and influences. Research in this field involves our understanding and anticipating specific responses towards our conscious and unconscious sensors to images, links, sounds and others.
Notwithstanding that, this kind of study also existed in the artistic tradition of the Malay who has been occupying the archipelago for hundreds of years which has not been studied scientifically such as the psychology of human actions in the martial art of silat, dances such as Mak Yong, performing art of shadow puppet and the treatment of illnesses are also seen to be between the conscious and unconscious level interchangeable through sublimal body movements. In fact the term ‘amok’ itself is very unique as it exists only in the soul of the Malays and not in the culture of other races, and not surprisingly the term amok is also in the dictionary of other languages which means to struggle, combat or stab that may be associated with primal subconcious mind gestures of the Malays.
One thing that is found in the theory of psychodynamics is to have a comprehensive knowledge of childhood development. In the works of Ali Nurazmal he uses figurative images of children in all his paintings. Ali’s works are seen as if he is recalling his emotion to the childhood experience that he has gone through. In the painting ‘Pursuit of Happiness’ for example it shows a triple figurative of a child, adjacent to the left a portraiture of a child’s face painted in red supposedly screaming hysterically for something, in the centre a gesture of a child dressed in a neat suit acting out a kung-fu martial arts pose and with a toy plane hovering, whilst on the far right there is also a child who appears seemingly to be in the midst of riding a balloon surrounded by clouds as though in flight, Ali as I have described in the second characteristics of psychodynamics i.e behaviour and adult feelings (including those with psychological problems) rooted from his childhood experience uses painting to explore his desire on a subconscious level.
In the works of Arif Fauzan he believes more in using his own figure, his shadow emerges in the paintings ‘Grave Digger’ and ‘Keep Grounded’ is seen as though Arif is in the mind level of id unconsciousness and superego that is always in conflict with the consciousness or ego that exists within his personality which has been formed in each of his painting. In ‘The Little Thinker’ double images of a child painted facing each other one with a thick book in deep thought (seemingly a behaviour movement of an adult), whilst below he is making a presentation of a slogan and rhetoric from the above book (childhood), he is seen in conflict with the times i.e between his desire at different times during childhood psychosexual development. Many of his works demand to seek to be himself (the ‘real self’ and ‘ideal self’) infused with the surrounding communicative culture.
What is interesting about Hushinaidi Abd Hamid’s art are both his works in ‘Sedekad Kita’ 2011. In his study of artwork using oil pastel on paper he engages a young model sitting down with a leg on a chair and a banana on his knee, although this work demonstrates a strong figurative skill which has been rigidly controlled in terms of movement, proportions and lighting however in comparison to ‘Sedekad Lalu’ i.e an oil on canvas which probably have portrayed the same model and banana but now older by a decade. Husnaidi’s choice of a banana symbolises an important nutrient in muscle building especially in the human reproductive area and in the theory of psychodynamics his idea is driven by a psychological force libido or eroticism. On the other hand, in the works of Carl Jung its meaning is more general as against sexual desire introduced by Freud. Jung said that libido is also psychic power (related to human soul and mind) owned by an individual to be used for personal or individual development, here I can say that Hushinaidi has managed to merge bothpsychodynamics and physique into his works.
In the works by Uzaini Amir entitled ‘ Sleeping’ is a portrait of a sleeping elderly. Sleep is a human’s natural habit related to a temporary halt of human sensory activities and it deactivates almost our entire nervous system. It is a silent response to minimise our ability to react to responsive stimulations and can be compared to that of a coma or (unconsciousness).
Sleep also rejuvenates human immune, nervous, structural bone and muscle systems. Sleep is often associated with dreams, dreaming is an experience of our senses in terms of understanding images and sounds during sleep.
Man makes various assumptions and hypotheses about dreams during sleep such as in Freud’s works entitled ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’ whereby in the book he introduced a theory of ‘unconsciousness’ in order tom make interpretation about dreams. He also perceives dreams during sleep as a symbolic expression of frustrated hopes in the unconscious mind whereby he uses clinical psychoanalysis techniques in interpreting dreams to reveal the secrets behind the dreams. From Freud’s point of view dream is a supernatural communication i.e the activity of desire or wishes to be accomplished i.e an attempt of the unconscious mind in analysing a conflict whether it is happening now or in the past. In the works ‘Sleeping’ it can be associated with the activity of human unconsciousness in a state of fatigue and repost. Initially, Uzaini did a study of a figural appearance of an elderly person with closed eyes in pastel. Research of this facial anatomy is then translated into oil discerningly showing traces of aging in the face of an elderly person.
In conclusion the works in the group exhibition ‘Psychodynamic Figurative’ by Ali Nurazmal Yusoff, Arif Fauzan, Hushinaidi Abd Hamid and Uzaini Amir is a reflection of togetherness to their mental evolvement vis-a-vis psychology and their worldly experience. Their works have also made it possible for me to introduce a new terminology in terms of increasing the vocabulary of figurative art itself i.e ‘psychodynamic figurative’ which means a subconscious mental response of the artists towards the study of human physique based on the theory of psychodynamics.