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September 26, 2017

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Artist wonders about her subconscious self

British artist Jane McAdam Freud, the great-granddaughter of Sigmund Freud, arrived in Taiwan this week for two lectures about the relationship between psychoanalysis and art, organized by the German Cultural Center in Taipei.

"The psychoanalytical subconscious plays a very important role in my artwork," she told The China Post about the questions artists are asking themselves.

While busy with some general things, she explained that words will keep on echoing through her head. "Then when I come home, I will look up the word, its etymology, and different meanings. Then I will start to imagine some things and it will get some colors and images and then I will just start working," she said.

"While I work, I have no idea where I am heading, but once I've finished, I will try to analyze why I did what I did in retrospective," she added, pointing out that this is the point where psychoanalysis comes in, as she analyses her own subconscious behavior.

"I think I inherited this curiosity from my family," she remarked.

Sigmund Freud was only a young boy when he had a dream of men with bird beaks taking his mother away. When he was 30, he also analyzed his dreams intensively; McAdam Freud noted.

Asked whether her family background had any influence on her work and career choice, she stressed that as a child she didn't know any better than that everybody is an artist. "When I was young, I wanted to be an artist. We also painted a lot as small children, which I liked a lot. When I painted, I noticed that I received some special attention from especially my father."

Interesting to know is that Sigmund Freud was a fanatic art collector, whereas McAdam Freud's grandfather was an architect. Her father, Lucian Freud, is a famous British painter and her mother was a fashion designer.

Yet she acknowledged that her father never gave compliments. "The only one always being very positive was my grandmother, Lucy. She encouraged me a lot and we were very close," she recalled.

During her childhood, she lost contact with her father, and her mother had given her maiden name of "McAdam" to Jane. "She always said it would be very difficult for me to use the name 'Freud,' and therefore she prevented me from doing that."

"Several years ago, when I was awarded a prize and had to bring them my birth certificate, it said Freud. They made huge fuss about it, so ever since I just used the name Freud. Everybody knows anyway. What I did notice however, is that my mother was right. The name Freud is something several groups of people tend to claim as their 'possession,' and become very critical on what I do or make," she said.

One of those art groups is the surrealists, who claim to work with "Sigmund Freud's" subconscious, said McAdam Freud. "The funny part, however, is that my great-grandfather himself always said that surrealism had nothing to do with the subconscious, because it was too constructed.

Another group, the behaviorists, are also strongly opinionated on"Freud" as their teachings deny Sigmund Freud's contribution to psychoanalysis. "Behaviorists are ridiculous," she said. "They want to deny the subconscious, as though everything is rational. That doesn't make any sense."

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