Skip to content

The Uncanny within Visual Arts — August Ruhs


Color is both the starting point and the end point for Katherine Bradford, used to depict both diverse communities and the individuals who constitute them. Interweaving abstraction with figuration, Bradford’s fantastic worlds are almost divided into two colorcategories: bright, colorful, optimistic scenes; and darker, more obscure paintings dealing with states of loss, isolation and loneliness.

While her brighter paintings might be understood as a metaphor for surface consciousness, it is possible to argue that the darker, melancholic paintings represent the hidden fears, longings and uncanny sensations of the unconscious.

In this lecture, psychoanalyst and psychiatrist August Ruhs will examine notions of the uncanny within visual arts. Sigmund Freud’s essay The Uncanny (1919), the experience of the weird and the eerie is subject to a profound analysis. According to Ruhs, Freud’s notion of the uncanny is related to fear, but is closer to the unsettling and threatening. Ruhs suggests that we encounter repressed ideas, unconscious experiences and their recurrence as a series of opposites that allow the familiar and the strange, doubt and certainty, the living and the dead to emerge as disturbing entities with the experiential character of premonitions, omens and magical thinking. Ruhs’ aim is to show that, in addition to spontaneous everyday experiences of the uncanny, artistic, literary and technological creations are also capable of producing such effects, since, the uncanny is an inherent device of fiction, art and the artificial.The lecture starts at 6 pm in the HALLE FÜR KUNST Steiermark. 


Participating artists

August Ruhs

*1946 in Graz, lives in Vienna

Professor, Dr med, specialist in psychiatry and psychotherapeutic medicine, psychoanalyst (IPV), group psychoanalyst, psychodrama teacher therapist. Deputy Head of the University Clinic for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy at the Medical University of Vienna until 2011.

From 2007 to 2015 and from 2019 to 2023 Chairman of the Vienna Working Group for Psychoanalysis (IPA), co-founder and Chairman of the New Vienna Group/​Lacan School”, co-editor of the journal texte. psychoanalyse. ästhetik. kulturkritik”. Numerous publications and translations in the field of clinical, theoretical and applied psychoanalysis.

More contributions