The Polish Artist Stanisław Witkiewicz Made Portraits Whereas On Completely different Psychoactive Medicine, and Famous the Medicine on Every Portray

The Polish Artist Stanisław Witkiewicz Made Portraits Whereas On Completely different Psychoactive Medicine, and Famous the Medicine on Every Portray

Not less than as soon as a day, workers at artwork museums and galleries worldwide should hear somebody say, “the artist will need to have been on medicine.” It’s the simplest rationalization for artwork that disturbs, unsettles, confounds our expectations of what artwork needs to be. Possibly generally artists are on medicine. (R. Crumb tells

Not less than as soon as a day, workers at artwork museums and galleries worldwide should hear somebody say, “the artist will need to have been on medicine.” It’s the simplest rationalization for artwork that disturbs, unsettles, confounds our expectations of what artwork needs to be. Possibly generally artists are on medicine. (R. Crumb tells the story of discovering his inimitable style while on acid.) However possibly it’s not the medicine that make their artwork appear otherworldly. Possibly mind-altering substances make them extra receptive to the supply of creativity….

In any case, artists have lengthy used psychoactive substances to achieve larger states of consciousness and address a world that doesn’t get their imaginative and prescient. Within the early days of LSD experimentation, one psychiatrist even examined the phenomenon. UC Irvine’s Oscar Janiger dosed volunteer subjects at a rented L.A. house, then had them draw or in any other case file their experiences. He finally aimed to make a “creativity tablet,” testing tons of of keen topics between 1954 and 1962.

Had Polish artist Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz (1885-1939) — who glided by “Witkacy” — lived to see the unfold of LSD, he would have signed up for each trial. Extra seemingly, he would have carried out his personal experiments, with himself as the only real take a look at topic. The Warsaw-born artist, author, thinker, novelist, and photographer died in 1939, the 12 months after Swiss chemist Albert Hoffman unintentionally synthesized acid. All through his profession, nonetheless, Witkacy experimented with nearly each different psychoactive substance, anticipating Janiger by many years along with his portraits — painted whereas… sure… he was on a number of medicine.

Not like his up to date Dalí, Witkacy didn’t claim to be drugs. However he was hardly coy about their use. He made notes on every portray to point his state of intoxication. “Below the affect of cocaine, mescaline, alcohol, and different narcotic cocktails,” the Public Domain Review writes, “Witkacy ready quite a few research of purchasers and mates for his portrait portray firm, based within the mid-Twenties.” The medicine induced “totally different approaches to color, approach, and composition. The ensuing photographs are surreal — and sometimes horrific.” Generally the medicine in query have been restricted to caffeine, a every day staple of artists all over the place. He additionally made portraits whereas abstaining from different addictive substances like nicotine and alcohol.

At different instances, Witkacy’s notes — written in a sort of code — specified extra pronounced utilization. He made the portrait above, of Nina Starchurska, in 1929 whereas on “narcotics of a superior grade,” together with mescaline synthesized by Merck and “cocaine + caffeine + cocaine + caffeine + cocaine.” One other portrait of Starchurska (under) made in that very same 12 months concerned some heavy doses of peyote, amongst different issues.

Witkacy’s investigations have been literary as effectively, culminating in a 1932 e-book of essays known as Narcotics: Nicotine, Alcohol, Cocaine, Peyote, Morphone, Ether + AppendicesThe e-book “owes a lot to the experimental works of different European psychonauts all through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.” Invoking the decadent moralism of Thomas De Quincey and Baudelaire, and it anticipates the utopian, psychedelic prose of Aldous Huxley and Carlos Castaneda.

The place he may fulminate, with satirical edge, towards using medicine, Witkacy additionally joyously data their liberating results on his inventive consciousness. His chapter on peyote “most intently approximates the spirit” of his work, notes Bibiliokept in a review of the recently republished volume:

“Peyote” begins with Witkiewicz taking his first of seven (!) peyote doses at six within the night and culminating round eight the next morning with “Straggling visions of iridescent wires.” In increments of about quarter-hour, Witkiewicz notes every of his surreal visions. The wild hallucinations are rendered in equally surreal language: “Mundane disumbilicalment on a cone to the barking of flying canine dragons” right here, “The beginning of a diamond goldfinch” there. 

Elsewhere he writes of “elves on a seesaw (Comedic quantity)” and “a battle of centaurs became a battle between fantastical genitalia,” all of which lead him to conclude, “Goya will need to have recognized about peyote.”

Narcotics features as a sort of key to Witkacy’s considering as he made the portraits; half drug diary, half creative assertion of function, it features a “Checklist of Symbols” to assist decode his shorthand. The artist dedicated suicide in 1939 when the Pink Military invaded Poland. Had he lived to attach with the psychedelic revolution to come back, maybe he would have been the artist to make psychotropic drug use a good type of nice artwork. Then we’d think about conversations in galleries going one thing like this: “Excuse me, was this artist on medicine?” “Why sure, in truth. She took giant doses of psylocybin when she made this. It’s proper right here in her manifesto…..”

See many extra Witkacy portraits at the Public Domain Review.

Associated Content material:

When Aldous Huxley, Dying of Cancer, Left This World Tripping on LSD, Experiencing “the Most Serene, the Most Beautiful Death” (1963)

Artist Draws 9 Portraits While on LSD: Inside the 1950s Experiments to Turn LSD into a “Creativity Pill”

R. Crumb Describes How He Dropped LSD in the 60s & Instantly Discovered His Artistic Style

Take a Trip to the LSD Museum, the Largest Collection of “Blotter Art” in the World

Josh Jones is a author and musician primarily based in Durham, NC. Observe him at @jdmagness

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