Beauty of Life In Psychosis

Beauty of Life In Psychosis 

May 13 – June 3 

Opening: Fri May 13 / 6 – 8

Beauty of Life In Psychosis, or BLIP, was a peer-run project that brought together young people who identified as experiencing psychosis or unusual perceptions/beliefs for a series of workshops to make and discuss art together. The exhibition features work by eight artists who developed and/or participated in the project: Shira Agam, Constantin Angst, Charlie Bailey, Rory Higgs, Heart (Ruth Kast), AnneLiao, Dina Majidi, and Blythe Parry.

          The exhibition features works in acrylic, oil, ink, collage, and mixed media created both during the Beauty of Life In Psychosis project and as reflections on or expansions of earlier work. Additional sketches and exploratory work created by the artists during the project will also be displayed, with these informal works together creating a “wall,” conveying a subjective sense of what involvement in the project was like. The finished works explore the themes chosen by participants in each of the three cohorts of BLIP as a creative focus: TRANSFORMATION, NORMALCY, and SOCIETAL EXPECTATIONS, which emerge as through-lines in an otherwise eclectic body of work. Bright, graphic colour spars with fields of chaotic detail and sudden stark simplicity, building a visual story of tension between states, worlds, and identities.
           BLIP held that psychosis was complicated and personal, making every way of articulating the experience valuable beyond how it might be thought about clinically or in the popular imagination. At the project’s inception, making meaning from experiences like hearing voices was understood as a social, creative process, like telling a story. Accordingly, the works span the emotional gamut, and weave between confronting psychosis directly, drawing on unique ways of experiencing the world, and sometimes simply reflecting on other aspects of a life history that happens to intersect. Some works express grief, fear, and pain.
          Loss makes deep marks, and these transformations manifest as wounding, as in Charlie Bailey’s PinkWoman, which exposes the vulnerabilities of an imagined, statuesque ideal. In several works, subjects appear captured under threat, immobile: Blythe Parry’s Involuntary Patient, depicts a bird hung by its foot against a hospital-green backdrop, is uncannily still, conveying quiet, suffocating panic.
          A sense of disorientation or even disintegration characterizes certain works -“IT’S THE SAME WORLD BUT NOTHING LOOKS THE SAME,” declares Constantin Angst in the four-panelled manifesto Make It Rain, while the repeated mantra “RISK OF DETERIORATION”stumbles over itself in Rory Higgs’ Salve/Solvent. Some works seem displaced or surreal: an eerie, vertiginous quality transports the viewer to a suspended moment in time in the ethereal paintings of Heart (Ruth Kast).
          Other works are triumphant, like Dina Majidi’s vibrant mixed media pieces, which convey a sense of positive change in their exuberant use of text (“You are the hope,” reads Follow Your Passion) and scenes of togetherness and gratitude. New growth emerges even from radical upheavals: the companion to Bailey’s Pink Woman, The First Rebirth, lays down deep roots while flowers bloom from the wreckage in Shira Agam’s work. The natural world and water movement equally become meditations on freedom and oppression in Anne Liao’s work. Reflections on the themes of transformation, normalcy, and societal expectations, co-created with the community at the May 20th workshop, will also be displayed as a triptych in the gallery.
          Beauty of Life In Psychosis challenges conventional attitudes towards both psychosis and the gallery space. Most of the artists featured have never exhibited work before and could be considered “outsider artists.” There is an unsavoury history in the art world of treating artists with psychiatric diagnoses or histories voyeuristically, with the value of art by marginal artists hinging on its otherness – that is, on the dehumanization of the artist. Instead, Beauty of Life In Psychosis approaches the gallery as a participatory, community-oriented space, where artists, artworks, and narratives are celebrated on their own terms. In this context, voices, visions, and unusual beliefs are explored as not only symptoms but multi-faceted experiences woven into larger narratives: sometimes disturbing, sometimes beautiful, and sometimes simply mundane.
This entry was posted in Events, Exhibitions, News, Uncategorized
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