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BFA Fine Art

Alfred Pohl

Ups and Downs

My paintings often derive from the people that I’ve met and my own experiences. Ups and downs is an autobiographical work and shows one of my largest traumas. About six years ago I had a psychosis where I was picked up by an ambulance, restrained and finally admitted to a psychiatric care hospital. I experienced delusions and felt very alone and outside. In my painting I want to reflect both my most horrific experiences and what inspired me to feel better and heal.

The work consists of eight different paintings – eight different parts of me. Running has been an important factor for me and the first painting is my target goal where I reach five kilometres in under 20 minutes. Painting number two portrays John Nash who despite his recurrent psychoses managed to get the Nobel prize in economics for his work in mathematics. The third painting shows a nice summer day on the beach with my friends. The fourth painting on the upper row is a meeting with mentors who also had experienced psychosis. The lower row shows my wounds. The first painting at the bottom depicts how lonely I felt when everyone else seemed to be together. The second painting is when the ambulance personnel try to take care of me, and I believed they were demons with yellow eyes. The last painting shows my delusion that I was enlightened and could see on other persons if they were enlightened or not.

It has in part been tough to make this painting and go back to painful experiences, but at the same time healing by reaching the bottom of some of my deepest traumas. Now it feels like a long time ago. But why is the stigma so large around psychotic diseases? People who have had psychosis are rarely openly represented on our workplaces or in our circle of friends which has led to exclusion and marginalization. You don’t choose your disease but when it comes to psychosis it seems you are supposed to hide it. Can’t we just embrace each others different experiences?