Erotic surrealist paintings by Sea Ooh See

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Psychological Aspects

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Psychological Aspects

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The “discoverer of the unconscious”

Carl Gustav Jung, founder of the Analytical Psychology, would have said that Hieronymus Bosch was the “discoverer of the unconscious”.

Jung considers that in the unconscious of every man and woman lies what he calls “the shadow”: a second personality which is absolutely not concerned by moral values. But we cannot possibly know what is in our uncouscious; we cannot imagine what is this “shadow”, this “second personality”, which has nothing to do with our good education and manners.

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How can we uncover a part of the unconscious?

For an artist like a painter, the fast track to uncover a part of this mysterious unconscious is to work without any intention. For example, from a literary point of view, the surrealists have discovered a method they called “automatic writing”. This method could unveil a little part of the unconscious shadow.

This absence of intention is a key point in my paintings. From a surrealistic point of view, there cannot be any intention when an artist writes or paints something.

Most people who see my pictures ask: “What have you wanted to paint here? What does it mean?” My answer is allways the same: “nothing”! There is no particular meaning in my paintings; I haven’t wanted to illustrate one or another hidden theory. My only aim in painting is to create beautiful things with various objects and living beings which have nothing in common in the ordinary conscious life.

From the same perspective, Bosch has never wanted to paint the unconscious! He only wanted to paint something beautiful, and he gave his imagination free rein in painting what he thought to be Heaven and Hell.

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Personal and collective unconscious

I perfectly know that this way of working uncovers a part of my unconscious. But not only of my personal unconscious. Actually, since C.G. Jung, we know that an enormous part — maybe the biggest part — of the unconscious of everybody is the collective unconscious. I am intimately persuaded that my works are very important because they bring to light a part of the collective unconscious, which is hidden in the depth of the individual “shadow” of every human person on earth.

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The “Shadow”

Let's talk a bit more of this “shadow”. In the depths of the human soul, in the most hidden corners of every woman’s and every man’s mind, there exists a very primitive beast, the “shadow”, heird of her or his darwinian evolution since the fish. And this very primitive beast is full of basic instincts, that are repressed by the moral rules of our society. Our conscious is like a frail ship sailing on a deep sea full of horrible and ferocious fishes and ugly creatures. But when you look at the surface, you see nothing of the ocean's depths: this whole living world remains perfectly unconscious.

One very important thing to know, however, is that in the ocean, like in our unconscious, there are not only horrible things, but marvellous marine flowers and extraordinarily beautiful animals too. But that is not the point. Well-educated and right-thinking people are generally not afraid of things of beauty, only of dreadful animals and awful sights. It’s a pity that this somewhat childish anxiety prevents them to see all the wonders of the depths. They simply don’t dare to look into the unconscious, for fear of not being able to resist to the unknown.

Jung considered that the unconscious is something natural, something absolutely neutral from a moral point of view. He has written: “It only becomes dangerous when our conscious attitude to it is hopelessly wrong. To the degree that we repress it, its danger increases1”. Unfortunately, for numerous centuries our western society has tried to repress our unconscious, with more or less success. Probably this is one of the causes of the present increasing violence, particularly among the young. I am convinced that the discovery and the conscious acceptance of the erotic side of the unconscious — for example by means of erotic surrealist pictures — is a powerful way of beginning to get a better harmony between our conscious and our unconscious.

  1. Jung: Selected Writings, selected and introduced by Anthony Storr, Fontana Pocket Readers, Fontana Press, London, second impression, September 1986, p. 181.

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No hidden intention

When I paint, I have no hidden intention. Everyone can project his or her own unconscious onto my pictures and find an explanation, but this explanation will always be strictly personal and only valid for her or him.

The same thing happens with the inkblot test, also known as “Rorschach test”. In a given inkblot, everyone sees something else, projecting onto it a part of his own personality. But it’s the same thing with the clouds in the sky or the drawings of a wallpaper. Let’s give an example with a very simple drawing.

a simple drawing

According to their state of mind, some persons will see here a blue crescent or the moon, other ones the open mouth of a toothless shark, other ones the eye of a strange animal or the entrance of a cavern, etc. But be sure that all what you’ll see comes from your innermost being, from your unconscious, and not from the drawing.

The same is true with my paintings. If I’ve painted a cloud, it’s only a cloud. If you see a dog’s head in it, this cannot be something else than your own problem.

Actually, the core of the unconscious is the same for the whole humanity. That’s what Jung calls the collective unconscious.

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The subconscious

But before coming to the core, shared by everybody, the more superficial layers of the unconscious (sometimes called “the subconscious”) are personal and not the same for every human being. That’s why the explanations you will find will be personal. Only after a profound exploration of your unconscious by the means of a deep psychological or psychoanalytical method can you hope to reach the depths of the collective unconscious.

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Basic instincts

Every living being shares two basic instincts: self-conservation and conservation of the species. The self-conservation is carried out by the feeding and the conservation of the species by the reproduction.

Among most animals — and particularly in man —, the reproduction is sexual. That’s the reason why everyone on earth is concerned by sexuality and erotism. Our western civilisation has repressed this fundamental instinct. But repression does not mean mastery. On the contrary! If we want to reach an harmonious and relaxed full control of what’s coming back up to the surface from the depth of our unconscious, we first have to know what is in this unconscious.

It’s interesting to see that some erotic techniques everyone thought they were peculiar to human beings are practiced by some animals too. For example, I’ve read in a book on spiders1 that some species used a kind of bondage: the male ties the female to the surface where she is or ties together two legs of the female before copulating. (There are at least two species known for praticing this “bondage”: Xysticus cristatus and Pisaurina mira.)

  1. Les araignées, by Rod Preston-Mafham, Edimages S.A., Fribourg, Switzerland, 1992, pp. 51 and 55 (Original Edition: Quarto Publishing plc, 1991).

With my paintings, I hope I have contributed in a pleasant manner to the knowledge of the human unconscious.

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