Symbol-personality-dream.An attempt at psychoanalytic interpretationof Mikhail Vrubel’s Paintings
The author of this article attempts to analyse Mikhail Vrubel’s paintings in relation to the state of the painter’s psyche, referring to Carl Jung’s and Sigmund Freud’s theory of analytical widely discussed in psychiatric literature, but also studied by art psychology. The interest in this subject has been growing significantly lately. Mikhail Vrubel’s life and his paintings are the perpsychology. The interrelation of talent and predisposition to psychical disorders was not only fect example of the coexistence of most exceptional artistic talent and serious psychopathology in one human soul. In 1890 Vrubel paints Sitting Demon — the first picture of his remarkable series, where the idea of omnipotence, grandeur and spiritual duality is expressed with utmost power. Demon is the artist himself. He devoted 12 years of his life to the series of Demons. Comparing this time to the 22 years of Vrubel’s period of active painting, we can see that this series contained his fixed idea, his obsession. The evolution of the painter’s affective conditions can be observed in the three Demons. Vrubel’s personality was frequently identified with his Demon, while the painter himself saw in Demon only subjective foreshortening of artistic invention and did not catch prophetic and general human potential of its significance. Vrubel tried to explain to his friends his interpretation of Demon as the creature not as much evil as suffering but at the same time powerful. The painter created psychologically complicated substance, intangible and exciting because of its vaguenes. For him Demon is the kernel of the soul of the world. Vrubel’s paintings of mother pearl shells (Pearl Oyster, 1904 and Shadows of the Lagoons, 1905) show how easily the artist moved from reality to the world of symbols created by himself. In these pictures the artist’s eye urges to wonder at infinity of the universe that opens up in the spiral of the shell. Populated and inhabited, it appears to be the life-giving substance of the new universe, the symbol of archetypal game played by the anima and the animus.