Collection

Susana Rodríguez (1948 - )

Alucinaciones (1996)
Hallucination

Mixed media on paper
height: 56cm
weight: 76cm
Mixed Media

Donated by the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Buenos Aires 1997

43-1997

These hallucinations of Susana Rodríguez seem not personal but to hail from an archetypal, visionary region of the mind. Three separate forms have appeared on the surface of the paper, each of them part recognisable part unknown. The snake-like form in the centre, the scythe-like blade in the upper left, and the veined floral trumpet in the bottom right are details that create an immediate but tenuous and uncomfortable sense of familiarity. And they are fused with much else that remains profoundly strange.

The ‘snake’, muscular, arching upwards, seems phallic and mobile, the kink in its segmented body a contraction prior to a forward thrust: raw instinct on the move. But the fit between the shape of its wounded head and the scoop-like form at its tail suggests that the kink may also be the hinge of an opened ouroboros. The ouroboros, or snake biting its own tail, has been taken as a symbol of eternal self-regeneration as well as of pre-egoic consciousness. Here the security of such cyclic enclosure seems to have been painfully broken.

Meanwhile, the ‘scythe’, curving downwards, is set in a handle that looks like a carved foetus from whose posterior a dishevelled feather protrudes: germinal life sprouting the implement of Death while evacuating the means of transcendence. And emerging from the same source as the blade, on a similar curve, is what looks like a plane of sliced flesh, inset with a curious double-ridged object that could be a vertebra or the cutting-head of a tool. The cut is fused with the cutter, the organic with the instrumental.

Finally, the quiet growth in the bottom right corner, a kind of stem wrapped round with a pale veined calyx and a fleshy ribbon, seems to radiate shadow that sketches another dimension—a behind—to the picture plane: a surreptitious invitation deeper into the world from which these forms have come.

For the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung incomprehensible hallucinations such as these could be normal as well as pathological phenomena, and in the hands of a creative artist could be visionary intimations of transformations underway in a part of the unconscious mind shared by all humanity. One wonders what transformations in our collective instinctual and spiritual life might have rendered necessary the vivid hallucination of these enigmatic and disturbing forms.

(Text commissioned by ESCALA for the exhibition Connecting through Collecting: 20 Years of Art from Latin America at the University of Essex, 2014)

Roderick Main, 2014

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