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Self-Reflexivity and Art

Rumjana Pankova

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3. Image

The importance of the background for making an impact on the observer is undisputable, but it is a mere ‘introduction’ to what the artist wants to convey to the observers or to himself. Image remains the main informational content as well as the base of reflection in pictorial art.

Individual’s activities could be creative, if they are a result of reflection, especially such of reflective ‘transition’, transfer through certain space. This ‘other’ space is different from the objective reality. It is the intellectual construction of the artist. Creative can be the individual and activity in which reflection is in the area of pure thinking. It ‘sees’ the base of an objective and practical activity, then manifests its essence in a different type of objective and practical activity, which at first sight has nothing in common with the first activity or fact. Along with these circumstances, it is a manifestation of the same substance – the idea implemented in the creation. This operationalisation of the reflective process inevitably creates the ‘temptation’ reflection to be directly connected with the sublimation process known from the classic psychoanalysis. There is a difference between sublimation and reflection. This difference is related to the process of realizing the activity, of the transformation, which happens in reflection. Unlike it the process of sublimation is subconscious or non-conscious. It is not consciously refracted through the intellect of the artist and this is why this process can not have creative potential regarding its quality – productivity.

The artist makes this transition of showing the event or idea namely through his vision, reflected and expressed in the particular image. Here reflection is in its clearest form. Image in different pieces of pictorial art is as diverse as their number. These images, however, are united by one thing – the conscious ‘processing’ of external facts expressed in a specific way in the picture. This transformation is not confined in the consciousness of the artist. It is shared with the observer via the respective piece of art. The individual, the specific thing in each picture is an ‘invitation’ to the spectator to share the artist’s view of facts or events. Moreover, the aim of the image is not to merely ‘inform’ the observer, but rather its main objective is to reveal the emotional state of the artist, to share the psychological continuum with the spectator. 

Presenting a personal point of view, transformed by the artist’s consciousness is a practical realization of the process of reflection in pictorial art. The image in the picture is a psychological substance which can be called ‘shared perception’. At first sight it could be possible to get the impression of contradiction between the two terms – ‘perception’ and ‘sharing’. Perception is always individual – it characterizes the psychological state of a particular person in a certain moment of time. On the other hand, communication always suggests conformity with the impression the other side has. In pictorial art there is no such contradiction. Here perception is mediated by the image, which mostly carries the marks of the artist’s understanding. Through the image he shares this feeling of his with the spectator.

From psychological point of view pictorial art creates maximal chances for such ‘shared perception’. If we compare it with words, the ‘means of expression’ of pictorial art are significantly richer. The play of colors, the disposition of image and the light and shade effects are the mechanism through which the nuances of the artist’s perception are communicated. It is shared with the observer in a highly individual way and depends on the subject, but it is also shared as far as pictorial art is a constant carrier of the created image.

4. Reflection as a base for developing mechanisms of the creative process

The forms of reflection are connected not only with perceiving new objects from the surrounding reality. It has yet another function of significant importance – to create an attitude in the artist for building algorithms for the art creation process. The importance of this aspect of reflection is determined by the circumstance that it is not possible to ‘algorithmize’ creation without this being internally realized by the artist himself.

Creation is not a process that can be mechanically reproduced. It should be related to the inner world of the artist and along with that it reflects his subjective attitude towards the object of creation. As it is well-known every artist creates not only unique models of art, but also an individual form of internal organization of the creation process, which is also as unique as the very object of creation. To manifest such internal form of organization it is necessary the subject, the object, the particular aims and objectives of the creation process to be realized by the artist. Having in mind the definition of reflection, there should be a reflective act regarding the creation process.

From the angle of the creation process reflection has another very important function. It is based on another significant indication of art – its stability and distribution in time. If the act of creation is instantaneous, it is expressed in an instant enlightenment, in an ‘insight’. This phenomenon can not be put in the core of the creation process in pictorial art as by nature it takes sufficiently long time. It is necessary namely for the realization of the reflective processes of creative perception[1]. The artist is not able to instantly see the essence of a particular object or event, as he does not merely fixate, but tries to reflect them in his own unique and specific way. In this case we can talk about reflection as a basis for the development of a lonely style of the artist. Namely this basis distinguishes the ‘pursuit of the new and unusual’ from the actually valuable new approach of the artist. This is particularly apparent in pictorial art where there are no criteria of ‘quality’ for the new styles like these in scientific or technical creation.

Apart from common dimensions, reflection in pictorial art a purely practical dimension as well. When introducing new approaches related to the development of creativity especially important is their conscious refraction through the inner ‘prism’ of the artist. This is not merely the interest of the particular individual in the implementation of a new ‘technical’ device, but the realization of the necessity for applying new methods for self-realization by the use of creational approach.


[1] Ниренберг Д., Исскуство творческого мышления, Минск, 1996 г.

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