“Art is my refuge, the place where I can forget that my body is tired of pain and sadness”
About this aphorism, authored by one of our artists (3), I want to share some reflections on the therapeutic potential of art, since through it the overwhelming reality can be transformed and existence made possible, as the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche says in The Birth of Tragedy, where he states that “art advances like a savior god who brings healing balm: it has the power to transmute that boredom of what is horrible and absurd in existence, in images that help endure life”. By using the expression “healing balm”, this philosopher attributes to art therapeutic power to heal the wounds of the psyche inherited from our social, family, environmental context or, possibly, of genetic and congenital origin.
When we study the phenomenon of art, we realize that human beings have always experienced the need to turn to their savior God, bearer of the healing balm. Art, in addition to being a metaphysical, existential, religious, social, cultural need, is also a psychological need.
Nietzsche, Kafka, Rimbaud, Rilke, Hemingway — just to mention a few “word” artists — felt the need to write, to build literary, poetic images, to give meaning to their lives. Writing for them was also a sort of therapy; in fact, Hemingway, author of A Farewell to Arms and For Whom the Bell Tolls, used to say that his psychoanalyst was his typewriter. Visual artists such as Munch (1), Van Gogh, Francis Bacon (2), Pollock, Reverón, Frida Kahlo, among others, also sought to conjure up that world full of mystery, anguish and terror that surrounded them, to aesthetically transform it into something harmonious and sublime, bearable, joyful, through expressive shapes, figures, strokes, colors, and textures.
That is to say that every creator, when painting, drawing, sculpting, modeling, or writing, expresses, communicates, and releases the anguish, nostalgia or internal conflicts that affect them, thus making their life more pleasant and, in addition, generating aesthetic experiences in those who contemplate their creation, helping to promote significant changes in their feelings, emotions and thoughts, which favors their development as individual and social beings.
This knowledge has resulted in Art therapy, a psychotherapeutic discipline that every day extends its field of application to areas of health, education, social assistance, among others, to improve the psychological state of people, using different artistic disciplines.