Reflections for The Art of Mental Health

Please post your reflections below.

Photo Credit Prof. Gupta

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40 Responses to Reflections for The Art of Mental Health

  1. Hugo Jetté says:

    I just could’nt leave this dialogic session without wishing you the best for the coming year.

    May 2014 be one where peace, good health and prosperity be present with each person of good will.

    Cher Dr Cornett, “Vous êtes un incontournable!”,

    Merci

    Hugo Jetté

  2. Suzon Ledoux says:

    Merci encore Dr Guzder de nous avoir donné votre art, votre vision des êtres, de leurs chemins torturés et des liens tissés entre nous, peut importe l’âge, la culture ou le pays d’origine.
    Suzon Ledoux

  3. Hugo Jetté says:

    Dear Dr Guzder,

    You have the key to the human heart. Reading your conclusions I think of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry : “Tu es un noeud de relation et rien d’autre. Et tu existes par tes liens. Tes liens existent par toi. Le temple existe par chacune des pierres.” (Citadelle – The fortress, 1948)

    With gratitude in the fellowship of the Spirit,

    Hugo Jetté

  4. sophie quest says:

    “Can we afford not to be our brother’s (sister’s) keeper?” Yes, thank you, Jaswant., for asking us this question, for helping us to remember it.

  5. thank you, Jaswant. An eloquent, thoughtful, and moving coda to the
    se reflections.

  6. jaswant says:

    dr cornett has asked me for a closing comment.
    the paintings stand for themselves, a journal of visual dialogues offered to an unknown audience (we are all somewhere deeply private beings) , the space between the painting and the audience including absent viewers remains a dynamic “conversation”
    i cannot comment on what the paintings mean for others, i am grateful to hear all of the dialogue that you have shared.

    it is no accident that i took out these series on ‘exile and attachment’ to share at this moment of deep estrangement with a most unwelcoming wave of anti immigrant rhetoric in the social space. my family began as refugees and here i am again experiencing the feelings of a refugee in this province. dark and unwelcome projections rest upon all of us who are not considered as equal human beings in this society.while as a therapist in clinical or intellectual spaces the agendas are about social suffering ,resilience, healing and identifying the elements of human problems. in counterpoint my paintings are another space altogether, they comes from a hermetic space when the dialogue is more direct and personal. they are a journal created from the mysteries of inner worlds ,memories and mental spaces.
    we are all fragile and mortal, beginning with our birth and earliest stories of attachment.
    we can never fully leave projections and the archaic behind as they are the embedding and foundation of our psychic beingness. when we look at Borduas (even as a child as one writer shared), we can be taken with him to a psychic landscape that speaks to us with direct access to a personal lens.
    we are made of myths and recreate what we experienced sometimes with collective and sometimes with personal mythologies.i hope the essence of exile and attachment resonates with some of themes universally accessible to our humanization. black and brown and blood red bodies floating without harbours , surviving without mooring. can we afford not to be our brother,s keeper? not to hold children or recognize when we have not held our own children enough? not to recognize what and whom we welcome or reject when not a single one amongst us has not grappled with a longing for love, safety and attachments on this short trajectory of life’s dynamic journey.
    i am crossing over from an artist’s domain to a political and social space when i suggest that Quebec society is now grappling with “us and them”, outsiders and insiders, alienation and belonging, entitled and oppressed, powerful and disempowered evident in the social dialogue. explicitly and implicitly we all find our way to perceive and process these realities. this sharing of paintings was an offering motivated in part to that predicament, thank you for your offerings and honest responses.

    • Thouria Bensaoula says:

      Dear Dr Guzder,
      My heartfelt thanks for your generosity and your closing remarks.
      Je vois dans votre démarche une rare et pourtant bien precieuse alliance entre la science du mental que vous exercez au quotidien et la pratique de l’art comme moyen d’expression de votre humanisme. Rabelais, à une époque qui ressemble par certain aspects étrangement à la notre, avait bien dit ”Science sans conscience n’est que ruine de l’ame”.
      De tout coeur avec vous,

  7. Jm. says:

    How did we get off on bears? The only animal featured in the good doctors (two) drawings was (the head of) a bird!!! — I thought we were going to leave the projections behind!

  8. sophie quest says:

    Two quite interesting videos to watch. The first made me think of the effects of the varied cultural strains in my own life. The culture of men and women, my mother’s working class culture vs. my father’s intellectual background, my father’s European immigrant life vs. my mother’s roots in North America (both Quebecois and US), my bohemian life in Manhattan as a musician vs. businesspeople seen from afar. Most people have some of these cultural conflicts, imagine adding to this the great global south and north divide.
    The second video describes some very interesting and beautiful work done with children growing up in very difficult situations. As always, careful attention to them and to any of us, with the use of art, brings good results.

  9. fdmillar says:

    Art is not only communication but reception. In other words, what the artist “intends” is only part of its possible meanings, because every member of the audience brings their own lived experience into the “meaning” to them. The reactions to Dr Guzder’s art bear this out. In addition, it is clear that she in her creation was reacting to the lived experience of refugees and their children (details of which, quite appropriately, we are not to know).
    I’m glad to see some of the paintings in photos at the head of this discussion. Could others be added, or a link to a “Gallery” of all the works be inserted?
    For more info on Dr Guzder’s work as a therapist see the short videos 1. Culture and working with families : “mother’s lap language” and second language as different worlds http://www.mmhrc.ca/en/blog-post-tags/jaswant-guzder and 2. “cultural / art therapy” on children affected by violence, with the Hicklings in Jamaica http://blogs.mcgill.ca/tcpsych/tag/jaswant-guzder/

  10. sophie quest says:

    Borduas also made a great impression on me when I came upon an entire room of his work in Montreal. I wasn’t 11 years old, I was studying painting at the time. His great slashes of white paint might evoke the nakedness of the paintings we’ve been studying. Or the snow and ice of the Inuit experience, coupled with the starvation of the peoples who were moved to another land for colonial reasons. I grew up with the magnificent murals of Diego Rivera in the Detroit Museum. I used to sit in the central fountain surrounded by these murals for hours. If we wonder what art means to us, isn’t visual art quite different from music, and quite different from words or theatre performances? All of them speaking to us so eloquently? I remember once living in the country with two small children, doing a great deal of farming, cooking, etc. Each night I was able to read 5 pages of Ursula LeGuin, my author friend. This was a great joy, receiving her thoughts. So art, for me, is part of my community.

  11. Hugo Jetté says:

    Dear M. Bryant,

    Your comments lead me on my personal memory lane as I went back in time 52 years ago when I was suddenly exposed to “L’étoile noire” (Borduas) at Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

    As I felt a deep connection with this work of art the eleven year old kid I was expressed this “epiphany moment” to my father. He told me that this was not “real art” showing me an academic representation to admire instead.

    But I knew I was “right” in spite of my environment.

    I was aware that something coming for the deep part of my mind wanted to come to the surface.

    Thank you so much dear M. Bryant to have lead me to this path of reflection.

    Hugo Jetté

  12. posted for Martyn Bryant

    The narrative of art is different to the narrative of prose-fiction (the one that interests me the most). Each individual work of Dr. Guzder seems to be a flash narrative. Maybe they could be organised to form one of those books that when you riffle through the images quickly they form a moving image.

    Do works of art provide solace in mourning, or does it entrench loneliness. I wonder because life is such a social thing, we get pretty much everything, identity, psychology, etc. from our community. Part of the easy rebuttal to the “Art galleries are modern day churches” is that they don’t provide what churches can do, namely community. (I’m sure there are great initiatives to counter my argument but in general I find art galleries to be rather boring places.)

    Perhaps some learning has to take place to use those art forms when being introspective – I’m sure people have all sorts of go to art when they are at times of joy/grieving.

    Is it fair to project yourself onto someone else’s personal suffering, is it producing a narcissistic reflection? I went to a lecture last year about the Harry Potter phenomenon. Readers project themselves so easily onto Harry Potter – in noticing that Harry’s true worth hasn’t been recognised, they think of themselves as a better person for recognising the worth of HP, then they compare themselves to HP and make it their personal mission to get everybody to read HP because if they can encourage others to unlock HP’s worth the world will be a better place.

    The trend of artistic consumption, particularly the phenomenon of binge watching of TV shows (Breaking Bad, Sopranos, etc.) bothers me. Also in social circles to hold social standing you need to be well versed not in the underlying human nature of these but the details of the show. Childhood is often rooted in these shows as I find provides a subtly directing of identity – I guess wherever we come from we probably all have the Fresh Prince of Bel Air to unify behind.

    How much can you project onto art, how is that process enriched by community (such as these seminars where we share our thoughts) and how that can be made soulless by making things too academic and dry? My poetry Prof last year rolled her eyes when I said I did these seminars where I write down how works of art make me feel – I think she saw it as a tedious exercise. She wanted to know about the craft/meaning of the poems.

    Excuse my lack of grammar, thesis, etc.

    The Sunday before last was a wonderful experience and I hope Dr. Guzder returns to share her deep insight in the future. Because everyone has such a vested interest in psychology we all could get interested in it pretty quickly and shape the discussion to what we were coming to terms with.

  13. Honeysuckle Rose says:

    Since we are discussing bears please allow me to share with you the little experience I had, a few years ago, in my own garden, with a real one (vimeo.com/75320722). In this video the bear plays…a less traditional role.

    Now, back to the more serious topic “Exile and attachment” I watched last week a most interesting DVD, concerning the fate of Inuit people from Inukjuak (Nunavik) exiled in the North Pole by the canadian government. The narrator is … Martha Flaherty the grand daughter of the author of the film “Nanook of the North”. When he left, Robert Flaherty never imagined the suffering his inuit descendants would go through:
    http://www.nfb.ca/film/martha_of_the_north/trailer/martha_of_the_north_trailer
    I found it particularly interesting and an excellent complement to our dialog

  14. sophie quest says:

    Interesting how “teddy bears” have become prevalent in our society, with adults also. Warm fuzzy friends. Teddy bears are never scary. Real bears make me think of the documentary about a young man who lived with grizzlies and felt they were his friends (until he and his girl friend were eaten by them one day.) Life – scary and warm, in exile or attached. Today I am feeling fortunate to be of the human species for all of the pleasures that we can experience and share, also with other species.

  15. jaswant guzder says:

    i appreciate the researching of bears;especially the associations to the protective strength of the bear totems. a history of images only enriches the psychic memories that flow into art work and helps to widen the reflections of what art works might mirror or resonate within the psyche.

  16. fdmillar says:

    I’m intrigued by the assumption that bears are masculine in spirit visions. Many native traditions hold the opposite. I knew about the Amerindian bear-mother myth — in some stories the mother is married to a bear, in others she is a bear — but when I began to look it up I disovered othe traditions Ungnyeo in Korea and the amazing 1200 BC Marlik bronze age proto-Iranian site). Google images of “bear mother myth” for many more.
    http://www.nativeonline.com/bear_mother_legend.htm I think this story is Kwakwaka’wakw (Kwakiutl)
    http://www2.pitt.edu/~dash/animalindian.html other Amerindian stories
    Marian Engel’s erotic novel Bear (1976). Her bear is definitely masculine.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ungnyeo, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dangun, in Korea
    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Marlik in Iran

  17. jaswant guzder says:

    as i read the comments, i am hoping that the discussion will encourage people to consider their own voice and agency in sharing the inner world. whether one sees the sculptural essence of bears ( a wonderful masculine presence in the family scenario) or the naked vulnerability of our dependent self, the audience creates and recreates the art works in their own way. like any reflective and creative offering whether musical, visual or installation, the object is to convey something about our human experience in the world and share it ( many times not share it). thank you for your commentaries on visiting the exhibition.

    • Everyone is an artist. This general statement sounds trivial as we live in the physical world where everything represents the finest pieces of art arranged in unlimited combinations. The human body is a fruit of the most perfect combination of organic and inorganic elements created from atoms representing another miracle arrangement of countless sub-particles. In this perspective human minds are much more complex after taking into account the presence in them of free will and creativity. Human brain potential is overwhelming and each human personality should be treated as sacrum protected from any kind of control/limitation.

      Our existence represents an integral part of a constantly evolving big artistic spectacle. That is why each person should be ‘a priori’ considered as equally important artist. Only needed is deeper look into human lives to see unique combinations of individual gifts that can produce in certain circumstances amazing fruits of our activities labelled later as art and cherished. In art history are mentioned pictures painted about 30,000 years ago in a famous cave located in France. Their unknown author is considered as one of the first human artists when in fact he was one of many existing in his tribe. Others were also creative after perfecting art of hunting, creating sharp and hard arrows, adapting caves for relatively comfortable lives, preparing food etc. This painter was gifted in drawing and fruits of his work, so exposed today, represent only one element of art created by his group of Stone Age people miraculously managing to survive in such harsh environment. We forget that he was inspired by the artistic (as engaging in 100% – the matter of survival) work of other members mastering their assumed roles and the art of surrounding him/her nature that created so perfect (that is why so inspiring) animals, plants etc.

      Unfortunately, our ability to notice a wider spectrum of rich human achievements is so far obscured. Our perception of art is influenced by the majority’s preferences. It generates certain esthetical/moral/philosophical etc standards that hinder our unrestricted ‘art’s sensitivity’ development. Only narrow elements from a wide spectrum of mastered fruits of human achievements are recognized, admired and promoted. In this way are generated standards defining beauty/ugliness, good art/bad art, inspiration/dullness etc. It allows future classification of recognized human achievements treated as art and writing its history. In the same way are introduced laws and orders in our social interactions. It sounds great as defining many aspects of human history and projecting our further development. However this path also limits individual human progress among treated as average members of our society. We need creations of shells protecting certain stages of our intellectual expansions, but also good mechanisms destroying them at certain moments and allowing creation of the new ‘shells’ only differently shaped/sized.

      Art reflects human activities that are universal, alive, always evolving and involving all of us.
      Let us look at art as a natural/unique catalyser freeing human souls from not only physical limitations, but also from oppressive social systems limiting/narrowing their horizons in perceptions/observation of own personalities and of others.
      That is why I will try now to idealize Prof. Guzder’s artistic adventure in drawing as a truly opened artists not trying to overwhelm others by fruits of her work, but instead inspiring others to treat their lives as an ‘artistic adventure’. At stake for her is awakening the most powerful driving force in human activities that can be named as creativity and justifying biblical statements about our supernatural origin.

      Confirming it are her latest words in this post:

      “….. i am hoping that the discussion will encourage people to consider their own voice and agency in sharing the inner world. …….. the object is to convey something about our human experience in the world and share it many times not share it). …………”

      Dr. Guzder’s sincerity is amazing, but we need much deeper understanding of her unique art that will also resonate with our personal perspectives. It will not provide even the most advanced knowledge from the field of art studies. This role can play self-presented credo/manifesto of the author expressing in the most condensed form very own dreams/obstacles/struggles/self-determination/sensitivity etc. based on perception of surrounding him/her contemporary society. Can we imagine how much more profound would be our observations of for example, pyramids, Mona Lisa’s portrait or Bach’s music if we had a chance to read the authors’ words about their own understanding of life around them?

      Such reflections will allow us to understand better their personal missions/motivations giving them so much energy to continue very extensive creative work. It would explain why some of them were so involved in their creative activities that even at the last and painful stages of life (when dying) they did not rest and continue to work. The artists’ role is not only impressing the audience by or sharing attractive personal visions, but also inspiring others for more creative and active lives. The renowned artists were able to find/discover/dig out their unique predispositions motivating them for hard work that involve mastering their gifts. Middle Age alchemy was about converting ordinary metals into noble gold and today we need social alchemists transferring our mostly consumerist societies easy to manipulate into strongly motivated masters of their own individual lives. We need more people acting like artists who are fulfilling unique own destinations that can generate, if applied on a wider scale, an unknown in human history development. A few presently living artists has duty to express themselves more openly and directly what together with exposed fruits of their work can inspire the masses.

      In my Christian religion we can see some elements connected with this topic indirectly (Matthew 25:14-30) and it will be interesting to hear how other religions/cultures treat issues of human creativity/active lives.

  18. sophie quest says:

    Perhaps if we are too much in exile, all of the”stuff” at Targets is attempting to attach us to existence. The skin nakedness of the paintings is the opposite of the “stuff”. It’s just all of us, groping with existence and each other. Perhaps I love that aspect of the paintings the best. Sometimes looking like lumpy animals, never protected by clothes, never presenting more than ourselves with the help of clothes, naked we moved in the paintings. There is a fair amount of movement in the figures. Best that we offer a hand to each other as we grope about!!

  19. Karl Pelton says:

    I found Dr. Guzder`s art to be thought-provoking and very realistic in its depiction of what it is like to suffer with mental illness. I found her discussion of how children deal with trauma and the refugee experience fascinating.

  20. Hugo Jetté says:

    Dear Dr Guzder,

    When you say: ‘the counterpoint of exile is attachment” I feel you have hitten base for in our society which I feel is becoming more and more alienated, more individualistic, the lost of meaning has produced exactly a kind of exile. And in many ways if we have so many kinds of dependency problems today I feel that it is this basic response of trying to “get” some attachement in the midst of affect disorders chaos

    I humbly think that to do good work helping the most vulnerable we have to show ourselves vulnerable at times also and this is not the message we get from mainstream media: “Be strong. Beware. Kick butts … and buy anykind of stuff in order to feel good” seems to be.a very persistent message.

    With your talent at making yourself accessible in our little group discussion at St-James I feel you have shown us that vulnerabilty, sensibility and creativity can be the symbolic tools for the spiritual David to knock down cheap materialistic Goliath and this, without anykind of violence.

    With gratitude dear Dr Guzder,

    Hugo Jetté

  21. Suzon Ledoux says:

    J’ai d’abord été quelque peu déconcertée par le choix d’une couleur (et ses variantes), par la sobriété des lignes à l’encre.
    Mais je me suis attardée à regarder les corps, à imaginer des positions, puis, à sentir l’atmosphère que dégageaient vos oeuvres, Dr. Guzder.
    Je crois avoir fait le tour une douzaine de fois, pour m’apercevoir que les dessins que je préférais me touchaient tout simplement d’une manière plus directe que les autre : la femme au profil semblable aux statues de l’île de Pâques tenant un bébé dans une seule main dans un équilibre précaire.
    Il a fallu que je voyage d’abord à travers d’autres peintures…
    Or, j’ai eu une maternité difficile, angoissée, avec un sentiment constant de ne pas être capable d’assumer la responsabilité d’élever un petit être.
    Puis j’ai vu les corps qui flottaient comme des nuages dans la page, en recherche d’un lieu où se poser, en recherche d’affirmer leurs propres valeurs, en changement.
    Ce n’est qu’à la fin de ma visite que j’ai entrevu les liens et les émotions échangés par les personnages. On ne voit pas tout de suite les chagrins, les déceptions, la colère, l’amour et toutes ses tentatives. Il faut parcourir un chemin à l’intérieur de soi pour y arriver.
    Seuls les grands artistes ont la capacité d’offrir autant de nuances dans une seule exposition.
    Merci.

  22. Jim Bardis says:

    It was a very interesting “dialogue” of sorts, much more than the last one on native art, because this time we dispensed with the “projections” on Dr. Guzder’s art and were able to get to the next step….

    I’m not sure that we succeeded however in probing the nature of her oeuvre…We seem to have spent a lot of our dialogue on Dr. Guzder’s work and her patients as well as her background as an Indian woman at the expense of discussing her artwork (so I felt there was a disjunction between the art exhibit and the dialogue). The content of the dialogue would have made more sense if the exhibit had been of her patients’ artwork.

    It was also not clear what was the relation between her paintings and their referents: were the paintings a reflection of her patients’ lives or only her own? Is it possible to reflect another person’s life in one’s art, or only your own? And if it is possible, then is it not only in the case when the artist’s life is also a reflection of a higher narrative? (I very much enjoyed the exchange on this theme between Dr. Guzder and her interlocutor about whether her paintings were useful as therapy — as a model — for her patients.)

    Obviously it is, because Dr. Guzder’s reference to the author W. G. Sebald’s novel “Austerlitz” during our dialogue resonates quite deeply with my own biography (to give one example), so that we missed an opportunity to discuss something much more important than an Indian woman’s emancipation from her culture’s social expectations — I lived in India myself, and was offered to emancipate a girl separated from her husband who had been married at age 14 — as if men in our culture don’t have to live up to social expectations (of which the resulting suicide rate — the highest in the world — is a reflection).

    In short, we arrive at these dialogues with our own indoctrination, to which art of Dr. Guzder’s primeval sort can function as an exit: On Sunday we arrived at the door, but missed the exit.

    Sincerely,

  23. Simone SilverLining says:

    On listening to Dr Guzder yesterday, what played out for me was the idea of having the space/time for an internal life. That this space in fact for many women has been forbidden to them due to cultural expectations of what a woman’s role in life is prescribed for them. I, of course thought about my very privileged life by comparison to many other women. At first I thought that I had been liberated from having to conform to that feminine role, and without consequence. But on further reflection, I suddenly realised that had not been the case at all and that I too had been exiled as I had been disinherited from my father’s family and my father too. I too had to deal with that exile from that family. So perhaps the idea of privilege is by degrees too as it is part of this life- an inescapable reality that we don’t state as a truth for each and everyone’s existence on this planet- that of exile and attachment and everything in between. How it makes for interesting lived pictures. I really found the nakedness of the bodies in the paintings, appealing. I like that we can be exposed, as all that is left is ourselves – our body and our face. Without words, so much is said anyway.

    Maybe the most fundamental of all exiles is the one when the baby comes out of the womb. Then the greatest attachment begins -that between mother and child. Really fundamentally I know that we are all the same because why are we are constantly between exile and attachment, between war and peace, between pain and suffering and love and affection. I know that I can’t generalise and that it’s not all bleak. We are very inventive as humans and have great capacity for so much good too. But as the person said yesterday we do need to be mindful of the perceived position of authority over the ‘other’ and the dynamics of the relationship that is based on that

    When I was in Target today looking for a plunger, what I found was all this stuff. It must be there to make us feel happy and to makes us feel better about ourselves. I kept thinking about the photos that I had seen this morning on facebook, World Photos and so much devastation in this world. I felt immediately juxtaposed between my thoughts, my memory of the terrible conditions that other humans are suffering right now, not long ago, maybe forever and me standing in the middle of this new stuff in this aisle with lots of other new stuff for me to buy. How bloody lucky I am not to be sitting in that shit, like those poor others in those photos. But why me? Why am I standing in Target surrounded by this stuff that is supposed to satisfy me? I am actually feeling really terrible knowing that somehow, that I can be here, with things all neatly bundled around me unlike the many millions of ‘others’ who are just eking out an existence. So why am I so privileged? Why me?

    .

  24. jaswant guzder says:

    a short response to such a rich dialogue, thank you .
    i sense that you have all given much thought to your responses to the paintings and conversations, this is an unexpected happening and full of unexpected kindness, this is a meaningful as part of the experience of this show for me, of course from dr cornett,s insistence at dialogue.
    i am feeling very good that the paintings were seen as a grouping for the first and last time together completely in their series.i thank ms victoria for her skillful hanging of the works.
    from your curiosity and responses,i know you have looked and pondered_ personal and the eternal themes of the title of the series. we all know our personal and contemporary histories include past , present and future , some of us know more or less , we all know some. we all know our life is about exile and attachment on many levels. that is why numbers for titles is best for these pieces of my life journal. numbers emerged after ms. victoria had hung the show and seemed to allow the viewer more say in the interpretation.
    each work is naked and vulnerable. each of these is a page in note book, stories ,visual stories, these are stories of people and mental states, often struggling with precipices .
    they are naked ( ready for transformation and pain?) and spontaneous.
    i wanted these paintings to share some of the memories of states of mind, many of these are linked to being with vulnerable people. like the refugee homeless at that instant,
    a painting only exists in interior space and then arrives. i am grateful that i have these space of painting for many reasons. it is not a solution to the pain or loss in the world. this is not real life of deportations and torture, it is only a way to have a voice or be a mirror of life or perhaps ( as charlotte salomon says) theatre of life?.
    i enjoyed reading the notes, in response to the works which were simply notes on exile ias internally a dynamic process, of the lost and excluded . people survive exile and recreate themselves. the counterpoint of exile is attachment whether precarious or achieved safely or fully as a secure base, it also remains a dynamic process.

  25. fdmillar says:

    Slawomir and others may get some answers from the previous recording by Martyn Bryant in 2011 “Rapture and Desire: creativity and boplar” Karen Kaderavek (with Dr. Jaswant Guzder) Dialogue Pts 1-7. It starts at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGxlXi1DSR4
    Sorry, no more time to write now.

  26. We need such seminars as a good ‘tool’ refreshing and boosting our warm social/intellectual interactions with others. The most interesting for me was seeing how not only strictly acting artists (painters, musicians, poets etc.) can break many barriers isolating people by their work, but also how animators like Dr Corrnet help to open them more for us. Thank you Dr Cornet for bringing or even dragging (haha!) your guests to our seminars.

    I forgot to ask Dr Guzder today if she is giving titles and short descriptions when painting her pictures, but keeps it only for herself as only numbers were used to identify them? It can make easier to ‘navigate’ when watching her pieces, but it is also framing our perceptions. What is your final ‘decision’/opinion in this matter of trade between the mentioned above two factors or other elements are involved in your decision of not providing titles, Dr Guzder?

  27. Hugo Jetté says:

    It is with gratitude that I close this day thinking of the tenderness I felt throught the affectionnate complicity of Dr Guzder, Mrs Victoria and Professor Cornett this afternoon at St-James.

    In her demanding schedule as a therapist, dealing with so many cases on such long hours, Dr Guzder has been able somehow to live the alchemist’s dream of transforming lead into gold by processing the complex emotions she experienced when facing all these challenges, especially the feeling of powerlessness over some hard to tackle cases, into art.

    And when Dr Guzder said “I am privileged and I “know’ I am priviledged”, she says in these few words what I was feeling in my heart all the way going back home: gratitude!

    I was also thinking that anger is not a bad thing in itself when it produces such art as Pablo Picasso’s “Guernica”. It is all about our reaction to our emotions which makes the difference between lead and gold and it is true, for I have experienced this so many times, that the most we can do is to accompany people, trying discretly to put them in contact with their own inner resources. For this we have to let ourselves penetrate their world with integrity without never losing touch on our own reality.

    Art as a spiritual venue is able to assemble many creeds and religious denominations and surely can provide us with sustainability in our quest fo peace.

    Again thank you for this affectionate and nurturing seminar.

    Hugo Jetté

  28. Thouria Bensaoula says:

    Overwhelming presence,overwhelming body language!
    Et l’on reste sans voix. Il ne pouvait pas y avoir de moment plus approprié que celui que nous vivons pour amener à reflechir à cette question de déracinement et d’attachement alors que sur la scène politique Québecoise se déroule le débat sur les valeurs…..le sentiment d’impuissance que ressent le dr Guzder s’en trouvera t-il multiplié? étant présentement entrain de lire le récit autobiographique de Salman Rushdie” Joseph Anton”, je me sens autant interpellée par la voix du nombre, que la voix d’un. Il ya en effet multiples formes d’exil et d’attachement à l’image de notre diversité tant sur le plan culturel, ethnique, genetique…..Je dis la diversité, en espérant que cela n’est pas un mot vain.
    J’attends avec impatience d’apprendre plus du Dr Guzder sur le travail qu’elle a du faire sur elle même et sur le processus. Enfin une question: lui est il arrivé de montrer ses dessins à ses patients?

  29. posted for Martyn Bryant

    A few primary observations.

    The collection looks like a graphical version of family combinatorics. How many combinations of mother, father, child, even a 3rd adult at times and which child they are tending to and who is separate from the focal bonding in each painting. The images strike me as being about primal emotions and how they manifest in the young family unit. Some children are still in their inverted labour positions without any support. The bodies are contorted and disproportionate but not quite grotesque. The softness of the paper and the dapled paint counter the uglyness of their forms. Shame seems to come into this. Partly naked shame and partly the shame of a parent seperated from the rest of the group. I imagine they are joyful and painful images to paint.

  30. Honeysuckle Rose says:

    I visited Dr j Guzder’s exhibition yesterday evening on my own. I was alone and the paintings were there for me only.

    My first impression was: All these characters are made of flesh and blood!

    My second (quick) impression was: here are some male bears.

    The first time I checked a title it said “Exile and attachment” It didn’t fit with what I was seeing, or so I thought.

    I kept on going around for a first global impression of the exhibition. I tried to concentrate on one or two paintings in order to deliver my impressions. Couldn’t make a choice. I was puzzled.The titles kept saying “Exile and attachment” all along.

    I was with my bear feeling.

    After a second tour of the exhibition I went back to the entrance to have a look at what had been written about the exhibition, including Dr G’s own comments on her work. “Exile and attachment”? Yes, we are all in exile some way or another and we all witnessed sorrow, despair, abuse of some kind in our own family as the paintings obviously showed. Yes, I could relate to that. Male bears imposing their rule but also female bears (#57, #3 and others), curved, like wintering in a cave with their cubs.

    I must explain this connection with bears: it happens that I just participated with my young sister in an exhibition about a “Bear’s Dream”. She provided the setting by displaying our father’s beekeeping’s books, tools, clothes etc, while on the corner of the room a TV was continuously showing four or five of my own videos containing beekeeping stories including one or two with a bear. This exhibition, we discovered, had a a lot to do with our own family story, with our own story (the two sisters), and eventually, after some difficulties and sharing, played a healing part in our relationship.

    Back to Dr G’s exhibit I was really fascinated by the way many characters were painted in a “bent” position and facing down (#12, #13 but also most of the paintings between #36 and #47). Human or beasts?

    Again I tried to make choices. #43, a large woman in a position of “grand abandon” pleased as well as a few more. I didn’t know wether these were aesthetic choices or not. I thought so at the time, but maybe I was wrong. I think however that, wether beasts or angels, it all goes back to humankind.

  31. Marilyn Berzan Montblanch says:

    Thank you Dr. Guzder for such an enriching exprience – to see and experience your warm sensitive works in such a protective indoor/outdoor space, echoing natural materials and colours, the work of the hand and creative intention.

    I would like you to speak of the evolution possible in working in a serial manner, exploring the nuances of your subject as translated in the ethereal/material images you have evoked. There are constraints which nevertheless lead to endless nuances of colour, shape, relationships and emotional evocation – is this possibility inherent in such a process?

  32. sophie quest says:

    I felt as Simone does, that the paintings immediately brought up my own issues of exile and alienation. It was interesting to discover that my partner had quite different ideas about the paintings, especially as to what the couple was up to, or the two women. I continue to wonder what art is and what it means to us. The nakedness of all of the people in the paintings was really emphasized by the paint color, pink and brown. It was almost too much, so much nakedness and vulnerability included in the entire exhibit. I regret that I’ll not be in Montreal to hear the artist dialog about her work. Question: how many of these paintings would she put on permanent display in her own home? Where? Bedroom? Living room? What is her relationship to them?

  33. Name: Victoria

    My response to the works in Exile and Attachment: a Refugee Journal are both profound and layered.
    There is first, the individual drawings. Each captures in the most minimal of line, form and colour, a very “big” emotion, a feeling that reaches right into the solar plexis, a feeling of being unhinged, vulnerable. The images evoke in this viewer a feeling that we are just touching the surface of pain; these floating figures – isolated or reaching to embrace another or protect a child– suggest primal fear and out of our aloneness we reach for another. All is uncertain. When these images are hung, row after row, panel after panel, in the gallery, this emotional response is amplified. The statement is: there are many like this; it repeats and repeats over and over again. Thus the grouping of so many tell me of the suffering of many and it is overwhelming.

    Artistically I react with praise of the artist. To capture these complex feelings with the almost abstract rendering of the human form is not easy. Guzder defines a face with the most minimal of lines, betrays the burden of “exile” or suffering with a particular angle of a shoulder or bend of the neck, arch of the back. Moreover the monochromatic palette eliminates the distraction of colour; keeping us focused on the shapes and forms. But then the subtle tonal variations of the water/ink medium ask us to look intimately at these works, almost as a whisper, certainly not a scream. Though we might want to scream at the weight of emotion evoked.

    I am further touched by the fact that this is the artist’s own healing process, this making of art. I would like her to talk more about that and how she has managed to sustain this art practice over the years despite her heavy clinical responsibilities. Perhaps it has been her survival tool?

  34. A.R. says:

    Your art gives me an idea of both the human fragility and strength. Facing this ambiguity in its various forms I experienced as pacifying and challenging at the same time. To me it’s complex.

    How do you appraise the relation between reflection and intuition? Do you believe in intuitive self-awareness?

  35. I have some questions about your main/first intentions behind showed in the library pictures as for me it may play many roles:
    1). Auto-therapy or ‘digesting’ in another dimension the current experiences/interactions with the troubled patients or own problems.
    2). Projecting/describing souls/emotions etc of others.
    3). Creating as wide as possible spectrum of expressed typical emotional states by painted pictures that can be treated as a tool/catalyze shown for the patients/observers to …….(many objectives).
    4). ……
    Depending on your goals the ‘artistic parameters’ for your paintings can be very different. When treated as a tool for cataloging certain human emotions your technique should be always the same what can look boring if looking at only one picture, but also extremely rich if shown among others. When treated as the art firstly it …… etc. And now come other questions:
    1) When did you start this ‘adventure’?
    2) How was developed your technique of painting and what was your history/background in it?
    3) Do you still continue painting and with the same passion?

  36. James Bardis says:

    Why do you paint (in only one stylised manner of the body)? It suggests that you paint to resolve or explore only one theme.

  37. Richard Higgins says:

    Je trouve que vos œuvres sont d’une grande tendresse pour le genre humain et porte à l’introspection sur notre propre condition, un appel à notre propre créativité.
    Selon vous quelle est la portion pulsion créative et quelle est la portion réflexion qui vous amène dans votre processus de création ?

  38. Simone SilverLining says:

    Dr. Jaswant Guzder’s art has the power to make each person connect, to make sense of their own relationship in the context what exile and attachment means to them in their lives. Her art facilitates us to profoundly reflect on our own personal journey, our relationship to the deeply felt experiences of exile and attachment.

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