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Psychedelic art and its associations

The word psychedelic evokes different images for various people. Oftentimes, people think of mushrooms or drug influence.

If we open up our eyes we can see that psychedelics demeanor has been around for years to pass that wasn’t drug induced. Often times these works had a point to make. They honed in on what one can say more of a rebellious side, and might tease the problems in society and sometimes may just be very peculiar.

We must account for the ’60s with flower power, fluorescent colors, and messages of peace and the ending of the Vietnam War.

People believed that the hippies were good for nothing and wanted an excuse to do drugs, but there were some real vehement activists who weren’t just sedentary whose pursuits were portrayed in what was most commonly music, but also art. We must remember nothing comes without a past. Along with these different ways of expression, influence isn’t necessarily tied to drug influence.

What led to the 60 s were two very impactful movements.

Art/Design Department chair and Professor who also teaches Painting and Drawing in Cerritos College comments, “Surrealism is tied into art history and we can see techniques, colors used, and story telling and there is definitely a chronological order. “

Surrealism Starting in 1930s and 40s “Allows people to sort of network and weave states of mind together where you can use what’s real and naturalistic looking, but then move through different things happening in one canvas which is totally new.” said Najarian.

Abstraction began after Surrealism in the 40’s and 50’ a famous artist that has many works that one could consider abstract and influenced the era is Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973) who is most famous for cutting off his ear. Abstract art is being created up to today and started up after surrealism near the 50’s with the use of more geometrical shapes.

A renowned artist from the Surrealist world known as Salvador Dali (1904 – 1989) and also known for his peculiar placement of his mustache and different sense of style.

Fine Arts major Kimberly Batson is a big fan of Dali’s work shares, “He was a new way of thinking for me, usually you think of art as representational, you look at a tree it looks realistic therefore its art, but he was more concerned with dreams everything was realistic, but they weren’t arranged in a logical way. Giraffes are burning and elephants have real fragile legs, and tigers were launching out of castles. It was refreshing to see a new way of thinking.”

It’s safe to say Psychedelic art isn’t the same as surrealism or abstraction, but are similar in the sense that they use less than usual methods as a framework.

Psychedelic art did tend to be stigmatized from drug’s while the others aren’t as much, so the question is just because there are minor influences in one it doesn’t mean that all three genres have to be affected, plus can drugs even help in the painting process anyway?

Part II. In the past along with places worldwide, even here on Cerritos College there have been painters who have used said stimulants to “enhance” their creative flow. Professor Najarian confesses, “To be perfectly honest, yes I have had students who have came in high.”

Often times when students come in on drugs they might be paranoid and work less effectively and space out, but Najarian claimed “Once I smelt it overtly on a guy and I said please don’t do that because it puts me at risk. I think personally, there’s a focal point. You have to really know what you’re doing to make a painting.” His overall opinion was that he didn’t think drugs help the creative process in general, but may work for others. “It’s only when you get comfortable you do it well.” said Najarian.

Robert Squires, a 3D animation major, actually recreated one of Dali’s works “The Face of War” for him the work reminisced to his days of service. Squires says, “The type of imagery that Dali uses is stuff I use in my own (paintings). I like more of darker images and the painting portrays feelings that I have. The picture has one face, but within that face and within that face there are three more and it goes more and more and it symbolizes never ending suffering as people.”

Art means something different for everyone. It’s all a matter of what you feel is right inside. Hippies thought it was mind altering drugs, everyone is different.

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