Embodied Space and Embodied Field: Further Inquiries into Art and Gestalt – Presenter: Perry Gunther

February 25, 2018 @ 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Chelsea Studios
151 W. 26th St
6th Flr

“Art works are actually more like people than they are like things.”
-Iain McGilchrist

“The body is to be compared, not to a physical object, but rather to a work of art.”
-Maurice Merleau-Ponty

“The landscape thinks itself in me and I am its consciousness.”
-Paul Cézanne

This dialogue compares the concept of embodied space with the kind of space that occurs in a painting. In a painting, space is virtual and provides a context that differentiates one artists view of the world from another’s.  In my 2016 presentation, “Meeting Art at the Contact Boundary”, I proposed that for an artist, space and the gestalt field are proximate. This talk offers additional insights into this theme. Even though a painting might look like a window, spatially it is not really confined by its frame.

The artist Louise Bourgeois described space as a metaphor for the structure of our existence.  Like the gestalt field, we can say that space is an experienced event. So, while they are not interchangeable, juxtaposing theories of space and field is quite illuminating. When we are therapists we are utterly in the moment. When we are with art we are utterly in moment as well. In gestalt thinking, we can say that the field is the medium that connects everything. For the painter, the medium that connects everything is space.

This presentation was inspired by  a suite of poems created by the Gestalt Therapist Sean Gaffney entitled  “The Las Meninas Suite.” The 16th century painting by Diego Valazquez, is a spatial riddle that has both fascinated and inspired artists and art critics since its creation. Gaffney’s poetry is an embodied immersion into the painting allowing us to inhabit its virtual space. The painting depicts a large room, a six-sided interior. In that respect, it is much like the room where gestalt therapy is conducted.

This will be a visual presentation that will include interactive exercises about embodied space.

Perry Gunther MFA, LP is a practicing artist as well as a Gestalt therapist. He has exhibited work in New York City as well as in Europe. He also was a professor of art and art history before beginning his studies in Gestalt Therapy. In that capacity, he taught drawing sculpture painting and design at Cleveland State University, Hunter College and Cooper Union. Currently he lectures about art and Gestalt. In 20016 Gunther gave a talk at the AAGT EAGT Conference in Sicily entitled “Meeting Art at the Contact Boundary”, an evaluation of parallel currents in art and gestalt.