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Psychedelia means “manifesting the soul.” At first it referred to the soul freed by the use of hallucinogens.
Psychedelic art is the art that accompanied the counterculture —the hippie movement, for example— in the 60, especially in the music. The unconscious is freed and stimulated with drugs such as LSD or peyote. The senses are altered, and art manifests itself by expressing hallucinations.
That is why we can relate it to the original spirit of Surrealism that by definition is “a pure psychic automatism”: the flow of the unconscious without intervention of the reason. In the case of the psychedelia, the induction to expansion of the conscience and the alteration of the perception generate a more delirious, more vertiginous result.
Colors are usually strident, and the images are usually series or patterns that are repeated, spirals, forms that get expanded. It is usually a kind of “abstract delirium” (although its elements are not necessarily abstract).
By extension, we call psychedelia to every manifestation with psychedelic characteristics even when it is not produced under the effect of hallucinogens.
Image: Yayoi Kusama painting her “psychedelic” patterns, based on the hallucinations she suffered as a child.
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