Robert Matta

Robert Matta

S+ Stimulant: Inscape


Inscape, in visual art, is a term which describes the artistic expression of the internal psyche as a landscape. It is a portmanteau of interior and landscape. The inscape seeks to evoke a psychoanalytic visual formation of the subconscious mind in a three-dimensional space, exploring the subconscious and revealing the mysteries that lie within.

Inscape is especially associated with certain works of the Chilean artist Roberto Matta, who, in the 1930s, created startling oil paintings he called psychological morphologies. He used visual metaphors to represent his mental landscape, as he sought to represent the immaterial entity of the psyche onto the canvas.

The concept of the inscape later inspired artists such as the surrealist James Gleeson, who delved into expressing Carl Jung’s subconscious archetypes, and abstract artist Mary Frank, a visual poet of the inner life, whose paintings are described as landscapes of the soul.

Each being has an internal universe that characterises our distinct, dynamic, and divine ‘selves’, an incommunicable world that defies description. Inscape is a fascinating expression of the elusive subconscious, as depicting the psyche as a landscape can traverse the gap of communication, expressing the ineffable, and placing one mind into that world of another. An inscape is a glimpse of that spark within, a visual utterance of the deepest darkest depths of inner-space.


W.K. 2014

Published: November 27th, 2014

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