Smarkusz's surrealist dreamwork technique and the liminal beings of Fusionism
Vincent Smarkusz learned of the first ever exhibition of Surrealism in America when he was only 12 years old. "The New Super Realism" as it was called, opened on Nov. 31, 1931 at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, CT - the same museum which housed the Hartford Art School he entered seven years later. The exhibition included eight paintings and two drawings by Dali (including The Persistence of Memory) and work by Max Ernst, Joan Miró, Giorgio de Chirico, Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray and others. Vincent was a very impressionable young man, and the strange new imagery inspired him to visually project his own imagination. Modern art, no longer limited to documenting people, places and things, was free to explore the interior realms of human experience.
Many years later, Smarkusz had read Freud's "Interpretation of Dreams", and also read about the psychic explorations of depth psychologist Carl Jung, in addition to the "psychic automatism" techniques used by Surrealist artists like Max Ernst and Salvador Dali. Jung referred to the practice he used to envisage mythological archetypes as a "self-induced psychosis", and Dali referred to his practice as a "paranoiac-critical method" wherein the artist invokes a paranoid state of fear in order to deconstruct his psychological identity, such that pure subjectivity prevails as the primary aspect of the artwork.
Shortly after settling in Boston in 1950, Smarkusz began developing his own method of access to the unconscious mind - a practice in which he managed to suspend his imagination between the waking and dreaming states of consciuosness. He would then quickly sketch out the figural visions and symbolic compositions that made themselves known to him. He often suffered nightmares, as well as inspirational visions while using his technique. He often simply refered to the imagery that emrrged as "dreams and nightmares".