Brief review of a series of sixty-six id paintings by Mark Wallinger (2015-16)

Hauser & Wirth London hosted a presentation of these id paintings, installations and multi-media works (examples pictured) (2015-2016) by British artist Mark Wallinger across both of its Savile Row galleries
Hauser & Wirth London hosted a presentation of these id paintings, installations and multi-media works (examples pictured) (2015-2016) by British artist Mark Wallinger across both of its Savile Row galleries
Saville Row North Gallery was devoted to the monumental id paintings – in which Wallinger created symmetrical gestures in paint using his hands

The id paintings were derived from Sigmund Freud’s notion of ‘id’ – the component of our personality structures that fuel our basic, instinctual drives, led by this pleasure principle, it is viewed as the source of all psychic energy. The paintings are the record of actions that appear to be intuitive and guided by instinct, thus echoing the primal, impulsive and libidinal characteristics of the id.   They bear an overt, immediate resemblance to Rorschach’s inkblots and they recall the bilateral symmetry of Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. That said the id Paintings have grown out of Wallinger’s extensive series of self-portraits, and they reference the artist’s own body in that each canvas is the width of Wallinger’s 1.8m span, and double that again in height as in da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. Wallinger uses symmetrical bodily gestures on the two halves of the canvas to mirror one another to replicate this bilateral symmetry of Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece. Created by sweeping paint-laden hands across the canvas in active freeform gestures, the id Paintings bear the evidence of their making and of the artist’s encounter with the surface. The artist acknowledged figures and shapes in the material while it was deemed that the viewer would reveal their own desires and predilections while trying to interpret those of the artist as evidenced in Rorschach’s inkblots.

The Rorschach Inkblot Test has been seen as a projective psychological test that evaluates the answers of a patient to conclude their personality. This test was not initially created for personality testing rather the test was developed to identify serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety. It became clear over time, however, that the test was more useful for identifying personality traits rather than mental illnesses. Although the validity and reliability of this test has long been challenged the test remains popular as an indication of a person’s creativity. In line with Wallinger’s id paintings the mark making is based upon the interpretation of others which has generated a dialogue with the audience as interest is naturally promoted through knowing and understanding. The mind is drawn to recognise patterns and to grapple to make sense of what is seen, to articulate abstraction to infer meaning as far as possible as a survival strategy. Despite knowing this I was struck by the power of these id paintings on-line to hook me in, to cause me to look and look again to try to unravel some hidden meaning, for me to explore the mark making and gestures made to uncover what the artist meant, wanted the audience to know and what did it mean to me? In using psychological theory and testing it would appear that this artist wanted to provoke intuitive ways of seeing which has increasingly promoted in me further interest with psychology and art.

The Rorschach Test- The test consists of a series of 10 symmetrical blots where the subject states what they see, their responses are then interpreted by others

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