I’ve always believed that where language fails, art steps in. It’s true from a psychoanalytical perspective as well. Art is a lot like our unconscious mind. Being sentient beings armed with the power of language, we have no trouble vocalizing and expressing what we see and perceive in the conscious world. However, the unconscious is a whole different ball game. Let’s take the best spokesperson for our unconscious as an example — dreams. Most people wake up and cannot remember their dreams. Even if they can, it only exists as fragments. Each time you try to reiterate that dream, it becomes several different versions of fiction. However, you can always remember the taste a dream or a frightening nightmare leaves behind, even if you cannot articulate it in language. That’s exactly where art steps in.
These were the thoughts racing through my mind when I saw Sajid Wajid Shaikh’s latest series of spontaneous drawings which he terms as psychic automatism. Born in 1989 in Mumbai, the young artist's work embodies everything that the new art world promises — it is experimental transcending genres and mediums and experiential. This series is inspired by the artist’s innermost fears and anxieties — all things that exist beyond the realm of the written word. But what exactly is the concept of psychic automatism, from where Sajid Wajid Shaikh draws his inspiration?
In 1924, André Breton unveiled the concept of pure psychic automatism in his Surrealism Manifesto. This movement aimed to unleash the uninhibited creative psyche, free from societal constraints. Inspired by Freud's ideas on dreams and the unconscious, Surrealists sought to express thoughts in their raw form, using techniques like automatic writing for written expression and visual methods like frottage and collage. The Surrealist artists, including Max Ernst, Joan Miró, and Salvador Dali, embraced chance and dream-like compositions to create unconventional and thought-provoking imagery. This artistic approach, influenced by psychiatry and parapsychology, left a profound impact on the art world, providing a gateway to explore the untamed depths of the human mind.
In Sajid Wajid Shaikh's latest painting series, he captivates the viewers with his expressionistic sketches that transcend reality and embrace the unknown. Absent a focal point, these artworks immerse viewers in a fluid labyrinth of swirling emotions, evoking both unease and tension through abstract lines and shapes that mirror the fragmented nature of fear. Amidst the chaos, however, there's a sense of liberation as the artist channels his inner struggles into powerful expressions. These captivating works beckon viewers to delve into the depths of the human psyche and embrace the mysteries that lie beyond. Through this series, Sajid Wajid has put his unconscious on the canvas.
Follow Sajid Wajid Shaikh here.
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