This acrylic night time landscape painting started one evening when I was driving home in my car through some country lanes with hedges on both sides of the road. This is very typical for rural Ireland. At least at the moment it still is.
The whole scenery had a bit of a surrealist feel to it because my headlights were illuminating the hedges and the road. The rest was in relative darkness except for the bright white moon. It reminded me of pictures by René Magritte (1898-1967), a Belgian surrealist painter. I particularly like his “Empire of Light”. It shows a scene in the dark with a bright daylight sky.
Photo courtesy of: en.wikipedia.org/…iki/The_Empire_of_Light
I liked the scene in front of my car so much that I painted it in my art class. I was very enthusiastic about it and said something about it being a bit surrealistic to the teacher. He basically went ballistic and had a real good go at me. For being surrealistic there would have to be a third dimension etc. etc.
The era of surrealism is generally being placed in the early 20th century. In the beginning, surrealism was a lot about dreams and the unconscious. Artists would paint without thinking about it so their hidden agendas could emerge. A lot of the pictures are dreamlike.
It was also the time of Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961), the famous Swiss psychiatrist who is best known for his theories of the collective unconscious.
At the start of the 20th century – most societies being very much men’s worlds – dreams, intuition, fantasies etc. were greatly repressed and dismissed. It probably had a lot to do with the fact that women are naturally great at intuition, gut feelings and the likes. That’s because they are mad and hysterical! Right? Women at the time were not allowed to think, let alone go to university because they don’t have brains. Right? They couldn’t vote, they couldn’t think, they couldn’t learn. Right?
I read a highly interesting book on the female brain by Louann Brizendine MD. She says: “Gut feelings are not just freefloating emotional states but actual physical sensations that convey meaning to certain areas in the brain.” (in: Louann Brizendine, The Female Brain, Bantham Press 2007, p 160) In average, men feel more aggression and women feel more pain and fear which is down to hormones. So women are not mad and hysterical, their brains simply operate naturally in a different way and that is good!
Thankfully, that kind of repression has improved a bit. Intuition, dreams, fantasies and women were allowed to resurface again. The surrealists obiously picked up on that and so did Mr Jung. I think it started slowly already with symbolism around 1900.
Here you would find e.g. angels or black swans at night, often a bit depressing. Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (1824-1898) is one example for symbolism. He painted dreams, saints and angels among other things.
Photo courtesy of: musee-orsay.fr/…ommentaire_id/le-reve-375
Another one would be William Degouve de Nuncques (1867-1935), a Belgian artist who liked painting moonlight pictures like “The Black Swan”.
Photo courtesy of: johncoulthart.com/…/the-nocturnes-of-william-degouve-de-nuncques
Moon: Female Symbol
According to C.G. Jung, the moon is a symbol for the female system, an idea which I quite like. And I like moonlight pictures.
In my painting, I take it, the full moon and the mystery atmosphere are the third dimension the teacher was demanding. I probably picked up on the touch of surrealism through my female intuition. I also know a lot of surrealistic pictures by famous artists which gave me a basic idea.
The fact that the moon is a female symbol I learned shortly after my teacher experience. I was reading an article on Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) quoting CG Jung regarding this (in: Barbara Hess, Abstract Expressionism, Bonn 2005, p 26). Pollock had painted a beautiful picture, “The Moon-Woman Cuts the Circle”, in 1942 with that idea in mind.
Photo courtesy of: pollockprints.org/moon-woman-cuts-the-circle
Isn’t it absolutely beautiful?
Back to Today
To a certain degree, I personally think some sort of surrealism is still all around us. Not exactly the same way it used to be but there are plenty of “weird” things out there still being produced like e.g. vampire and horror films or special effects as in the “Ally McBeal” series around 15 years ago. I watched all episodes!! It was brilliant!
Modern art is full of fantasy things. I own a book with dreamy art by Sulamith Wülfing (1901-1989), more fairytale-like than anything (David Larkin/Editor, The Fantastic Art of Sulamith Wülfing, Verona/Italy 1978).
Photo courtesy of: artpassions.net/wulfing/wulfing
Otherwise there are music album covers (Roger Dean, born 1944) and the playstation game world. I don’t do these nor do I watch horror films any more because they do not exactly make me happy.
Photo courtesy of: artistsuk.co.uk/…/YES-YEARS-YELLOW-CITY-POSTER-by-Roger-Dean-1674
Talking about horror films:
Now that reminds me of a young lady who asked me once when we were talking about horror films: “Do you look under your bed after such a film as well?” My answer: “Not only under the bed!!!” Then we both cracked up laughing about our own stupidity…
How about Y O U ???
For more mystery paintings visit: pinterest.com/…ing/moonlight-mystery-blog