Dr. Arthur Janov's Primal Center
For treatment, training and research

Archive; Primal Art Show 2003

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Images from the Primal Art Show, February 24, 2003


Please click on each thumbnail to see a full-size version.


Four Paintings by R. L.

Artist's Statement

Calligraphy Brushworks (top of photo) by C. G.

Artist's Statement



Mandala (at right) by C. G.

Artist's Statement




"Womb Series" One and Two by L. L.

Artist's Statement






Additional Artist's Statement (artist's works are not pictured)



Statement from R. L. (Four Paintings)


My art work always had to do with feelings, my feelings about the world, about people and my relationships with them. Hurt, despair, anger, longing, I always put it on paper, often I would wake up out of nightmares and jotted them down , to paint them later in the day.

It was my way of surviving, because I did not speak much, was not allowed to cry, or get angry, it was like a straw through which I could breathe.

The thing that is different now after going through Therapy is that I used to be afraid of color, I mostly worked in black and white. I think color, especially strong color, was equal to life itself for me. I also was too frightened of rejection and never dared to show my work in public, I was afraid of being bad, and I was only able to show my work to a small group of supportive friends.

That has changed, color is a delight to me now, and fear of rejection does not have a strong hold on me anymore, I trust much more in my ability to portray what I want to portray, not that I always succeed, but even that seems to just be the flow of things and part of the course not failure or equal to being bad.

For a number of years, somewhere in between or before and after Therapy, I struggled for acceptance of the Art world with my paintings until I realized, that I got stuck in trying to please others and that it had become something that was not me, so now, after having been nudged by my daughter and a very good friend, I returned to letting myself paint what is inside of me, at any given time, what moves me deeply, and try to let it flow without censoring myself. It is freeing to have no more struggle. Approval and success has become something that does not mean much anymore, what is important is the process while I am working, and how I feel about it at the end.

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Statement from C. G. (Calligraphy Brushworks and Mandala)


Before coming to therapy I did art as a way of trying to feel alive and to find some meaning to sustain me. It was always hard because every time I attempted to do anything I had to fight huge battles to get past feelings like: I can't move, I'm too scared to try because it will be awful then I'll have nothing, No one will like it and I'll have the pain of feeling I can never do anything good enough or right.

I was often nearly exhausted by this process and had very little energy left to do any art. To me art expresses - I am alive and this is what it's like - recorded in any medium I enjoy being alive in. I couldn't let the deadness and lostness of my life win so I struggled to do many kinds of art just to squeeze out a few drops of life from somewhere deep inside of me.

Now that I'm in therapy my needs around doing art have totally changed. I have a great deal of energy and meaning coming from the primal process itself and no longer have a desperate urge to plumb my unconscious for symbolic value for my life. Symbols are not nearly as satisfying as the real thing. As I explore directly the parts of myself which I knew where there but couldn't reach, I have a world I never had before. And, even if it's very painful at times, feeling gives me meaning and an experience of being alive, really alive, in the best medium of all - ME.

I'm not doing as much art now, also because with job, therapy and training, my time is very limited. I am sure I will continue my artists' life again in the future but not in the desperate conflicted pain of before. I lunged at any crumbs of beauty I could find as a way to feed myself when I was starving. My art will still be for me, but flow on to the page from the sheer joy of my feeling alive.


One of my painting teachers used to say,
' A painting is a postcard from a country of consciousness. '

These free-form brushworks express internal feeling states. I focus inward and let the brush express what is inside onto the paper quickly without thought or deliberation. Feelings move faster than thoughts so it's a method of shifting left-brain dominance and allowing feelings which I may or may not be aware of to be depicted in energy and form. It's letting the body speak onto the paper through the brush.

Titles (left to right):

#1 Coughing all the Way...!

#2 Space but not Emptiness

#3 Mad at France

#4 Flying Apart

#5 The Way I Feel Sometimes

MANDALA - 15" diameter, gouache

A mandala is a painter's journey through layers of consciousness to the center of self, that is, the'real self'. This mandala, begun before I entered therapy, is enclosed with a protective boundary of fire, followed by brushwork of earth colors in a 'conscious' ring. The painting is done in a progression down through layers that are further and further from consciousness. The first ring is followed by the blue or 'dream' ring, and then the four colored 'gates' which are the impediments or 'tight places' which stops one from being fully who they are. These must be passed through or 'painted in' to reach the real self. My attraction to the energetic, kind of chaotic brushwork in this mandala was always a question mark for me. Typically mandalas have scenes and contexts representing aspects of one's life. Now, when I look at it I see 'Electricity'. I experienced a near- death electrical trauma when I was a child and am now reliving it in therapy. The energetic figures in the mandala are very like the way the electricity 'feels' in my body. The mandala is a work in progress with only one of the 'gates' filled in. My 'real self' is much more available to me than it used to be but I'm not quite ready to paint my self to the Center just yet, so it remains open.

For me art was very much an attempt to explore and illuminate the lower levels of consciousness which were an inaccessible mystery and yet so obviously shaped and dominated all of my life. The left brain is very intolerant of slow, and as far as it's concerned 'boring' methods, like mandala painting. The process of the mandala is done just this way on purpose so that the vigilant control of the left brain relaxes, and the deeper layers of normally inaccessible experience sneak through and are expressed in the painting. I also 'let the brush do what it wants to do' which is another technique of removing conscious direction so the impulse which moves the brush comes from the unconscious. I had no idea until therapy that electricity was so much a part of my brain and body and yet here is a picture of it, of me.

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Statement from L. L. ("Womb Series" One and Two)


I believe the therapy I've experienced at The Primal Center has affected my art. I feel a connectedness more now than ever before. What I mean by this is I'm creating from a much clearer place. Prior to therapy painting was a struggle for me. To create was a struggle, to mix color was a struggle, to stretch a canvas was a struggle. I would work and work a canvas because I believed I was never good enough. These experiences were simply mirroring the struggle I have in my life; feelings of not being enough.

Primal Therapy has provided me with an understanding of how in all aspects of my life I've acted these feelings out. This however, does not mean I'm completely free of my struggle. What I do have now is a conscious awareness that affords me the chance not to live in these feelings.

My art now feels more resolved inside. Color excites me. Most important, there are times when I'm painting and am blown away by what I'm creating and it brings tears to my eyes. When I experience this, I am grateful and recognize that what encloses that joy/enoughness are those feelings that I believe I'm not enough.

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Statement from P. B. (Photographs - not pictured)


Fear has ruled every aspect of my life, paralyzing every action I made. It isolated me not only from other people but also played havoc on my creativity. I was too afraid to dance, act, write a short story, design a quilt or display my photography. Projects were never started or finished, abandoned once a mistake was found. It had to be perfect! I desperately wanted to share my creative side. Something deep inside of me kept nagging to be seen. My creativity was hidden, too painful to uncover, I had to control it. Primal Therapy has been a way for me to experience my fear and face it as a feeling. My fear no longer had the same paralyzing charge it once had on my creativity. I took small steps to share my artistic side, as imperfect as it was. I faced the fear, took action, and found life!


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