Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Schizophrenic Love Drawing

The images for this drawing came completely from my unconscious mind.  I didn't look at photographs or other artwork for inspiration.  First I drew separate images in a sketchbook.  Then I assembled them into a whole.  I made my separate sketching form a narrative.   This is not a straight forward realistic story.  It is a symbolic story. And it feels exactly right and true.  I call this 22"x30" oil pastel drawing "Love is Complicated".  It is a story about me, my life, my marriage.  And what the condition of love feels to me.  It took about a month to make.  Click on the image to see it enlarged.

The man is my husband.  He is pregnant with a saint in his belly.  I think very highly of my husband.  He has traits of a saint within him. And he can be an arrogant dickhead.  But most of the time, he is happy and nice.  He tries to be good.

The girl is me, lovingly entwined with her inner beast. People do have layers to them, the outer and the inner.  The gun, the potential shot, the erect penis, the hole that is essential to every woman, animal passion, both man and women smiling, - this is all very sexual imagery.  I think I see in this drawing the state of my marriage bed.  In schizophrenic art I don't usually see much sexual imagery.  Hardly any nudes.  No reference much to any type of relationship between people.  I assume that this is because sex, and schizophrenia, don't go well together.   My two best schizophrenic friends have had sex in the past, but currently, they do not.  One has been celibate for over twenty five years.  The other would like to have a girlfriend.  But he is in a very isolated living situation.  And I don't know if his nature would ever be able to weather the complications that emotional intimacy brings.  He has never had a long term relationship or been in a romantic relationship where the emotion of love is present.  I think the illness brings with it a sense of isolation to the sufferer.  Usually the isolation is self-protective.

I notice that I'm not built well to sustain strong emotions.  After experiencing a strong emotion sometimes I am catatonic for a bit.  Other times the world get really dark.  I am always emotionally fragile after sex.  Sex can be happy and passionate in our marriage, but on some level, it always wounds me.  It doesn't matter that the only emotion that was present during sex was love and passion.  I still emerge wounded.  Not on my outer manifestation, but inwardly.  

The pink bird bites its claw and makes the shape of the eternal circle.  The bird cannot fly, it is shackled and earth bound.  I think the bird is a symbol of the Love within my marriage.  The love between my husband and I is eternal, a trap, capable of flight yet going nowhere, rather pretty, purposely self consuming, very self absorbed.  So my loving marriage is complicated.  I think my husband and I do not have a lifestyle that most couples have.  As much as possible, we are in retreat from the world.  We are very sensitive to one another and small mishaps, small criticisms, can easily wound.  At our worst, we have both felt "gutted" by the other.  We currently do not understand how a harsh remark can so easily damage self esteem.  Are we both, in separate ways, equally fragile?  Are we so intensely hooked in to the other's psyche?  We do not call ourselves soulmates.  But we would like to be with each other until we die.  It will be hard for the one who remains.

I have been assured time and time again by others who have had long term successful marriages that marriage requires hard work.  Easily, love is both painful and sweet.

In the last conversation I had with my father he asked me, "Why are the mentally ill so obsessed with their illness?"  No doubt he was thinking of me.  But the best schizophrenic art, I think, like the self consuming suffering schizophrenic, turns inward into the depths of the psyche for subject matter and form.  My schizophrenia on a daily basis falls into patterns of wellness and relapse.  I move from hour to hour feeling well or not well.  This scenario can easily happen - a fun active, productive morning, and then an evening where I can't move from my bed and proclaim with anguish "I am in hell and life has no meaning".   But I'll be well again and chipper the next morning.  I make art when I'm not suffering.  But no doubt, even when I feel normal, psychotic thought is denaturing and re-arranging logical thought.  Highly creative and schizophrenics can and do make unlikely connections.  That's the footprint of psychosis.  I don't think that this is a comfortable drawing.  I do not think that this a drawing that a sane artist would make.  And most certainly, I don't think that this drawing has anything typical of the romantic, social, ideal of Love.  It has more in common with the workings of the unconscious mind than what has been produced during the course of art history by artists expounding on the theme of Love.  Nobody likes to think of Love as I have portrayed it.  I'm out of the social norm. And frankly, I have no interest in depicting the social norm.  That would be a very boring image for me.  And it would feel as though it were a lie.

Some schizophrenics paint landscapes.  Landscapes with realistic looking grass, trees and flowers.  But for a schizophrenic, especially one not medicated, such subject matter is rare.  What most schizophrenics want to put in their art is an interior landscape.  A reality from within.  A genesis of unconscious conclusions and ways.  In order to make a picture we don't look out our bedroom window.  We look inward to what the disease makes us obsessed with.

It is scary how dependent I am on my husband.