Civilization and its Discontents, a series of over 50 paintings done in 2017, draws its inspiration and title from a small but brilliant book written by Sigmund Freud in 1929. In it Freud examines what he considers to be the central conflict in human civilization and culture, a conflict created by two antithetical forces. One force is the instinctual demand of the individual for complete and unfettered freedom to act upon impulse, however base or primitive. The counter force is civilization’s demand for conformity to norms and laws, the repression of primitive impulses (such as incest, rape and murder) and the sacrifice of individual instinct and desire for the preservation of social order.
According to Freud, the intensity of the social friction caused by these forces fluctuates from epoch to epoch, culture to culture and generation to generation and depends upon a complex of religious, political and economic factors. Where America lies on the continuum at this point in its history, as wells as how Freud’s concept informs and is relevant to the times we live in, I leave to your reflection. My reflections are the paintings before you.