Walking in My Mind, Hayward Gallery, London

The Freudian mind is a busy place. Better to keep it simple

Of the many triumphs of Sigmund Freud, perhaps the greatest is his Gaul-like division of the mind into three parts, id, ego and super-ego.

Freud's model is so catchy because it is so simple – a trio of interconnected chambers, their interrelations shown as if by arrows. And if it's easy to picture the Freudian psyche graphically, it's even easier to do so sculpturally. Imagine an exhibition titled Walking in My Mind and you might come up with a series of stroll-through installations, their bits and bobs drawn from The Psychopathology of Everyday Life. In this regard at least, a new show at the Hayward Gallery does not disappoint.

The blurb says Walking in My Mind is "an expedition into the mysterious mental processes of creativity" (unlike, say, the Sistine Chapel ceiling). Instead of merely being creative, the 10 artists in the show are creative about their own creating, a circularity that may call to mind the sin of Onan. Each has made a walk-through mindscape, a psychic self-portrait in the form of an installation. That, at least, is how the curators want us to see the works.

I'm not a big fan of maximal art, the kind that conjures up complexity by being very complex. Take Jason Rhoades's The Creation Myth. Visitors will tumble over each other to see this, largely because of a sign that warns of lewd content. (Prepare to be disappointed.) The Freudian mind is a busy place, and The Creation Myth is commensurately busy, with tables, chairs, TVs, plastic buckets labelled The Prick, The Grey Matter, etc, machinery, cardboard turds, laser prints of porn magazines, a toy train trundling around with a draught-excluding snake on its back, and other mixed media. Sawn-off bits of cylindrical lumber imply castration complexes and there's a notice about Darwin to suggest that Rhoades, who died young, had read a lot. And?

Charles Avery's complexity is of a different sort, although it, too, is the point of his work. Avery's oeuvre consists of cod-anthropological specimens from a mythical island. Some are presented as objects in vitrines – a spiky hat, flints – and some as gouaches on the wall. Avery takes the walking bit of the show's title literally. One part of his installation is downstairs, another upstairs, a third out on a terrace – you have to pass through Bo Christian Larsson's ho-hum homage to Beuys to get from one to the other. The feeling, though, is not of mystery but of contrivance, of cleverness rather than imagination.

And that is my problem here. Those early apostles of St Sigmund, the Surrealists, faced the same conundrum: if the psyche is irrational, how do you rationalise it? Their best answers were found not in complexity – Dali's swans and clocks, say – but in simplicity: Meret Oppenheim's fur teacup, whose juxtaposing of two known things makes you shudder with unknowing.

In this show it is not the ponderously thought-through work of Keith Tyson and Thomas Hirschhorn that stays with you, but the uncanny simplicity of three artists, all Japanese. In Yoshimoto Nara's case the simplicity is less Freudian than Jungian, Nara's installation being that archetypal thing, the hut. To look through the windows of his comic-filled Wendy house, My Drawing Room, is to feel a common mourning of childhood. Yayoi Kusama, now 80, has lived for years as a voluntary in-patient at a Tokyo mental hospital. Her famously polka-dotted soft sculptures are drawn from hallucinations but carry universal echoes of myth and scale. Kusama's room in this show, filled with spotty inflatables, co-opts you as a character in a fairy tale, or perhaps as a fifth Teletubby.

It is the least known of the three artists who really impresses. Chiharu Shiota has filled a section of the Hayward's top floor with a tunnel of stretched black threads, imprisoning, in one part, white spectral shapes. What this evokes – Jungian woodland, a vagina – I cannot say, but evoke it does. And its relation to Shiota's creative mind? You tell me.

Arts and Entertainment
'Banksy Does New York' Film - 2014

Art Somebody is going around telling people he's Banksy - but it isn't the street artist

Arts and Entertainment
Woody Allen and Placido Domingo will work together on Puccini's Schicchi

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment
The sixteen celebrities taking part in The Jump 2015

TV

Arts and Entertainment
British author Helen Macdonald, pictured with Costa book of the year, 'H is for Hawk'
booksPanel hail Helen Macdonald's 'brilliantly written, muscular prose' in memoir of a grief-stricken daughter who became obsessed with training a goshawk
Arts and Entertainment
Tom DeLonge has announced his departure from Blink-182

music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
In the picture: Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman in 'The Eichmann Show'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache as Deirdre and Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

tvThe actress has died aged 60
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Marianne Jean-Baptiste defends Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Arts and Entertainment

Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated

Arts and Entertainment
Damian Lewis shooting a scene as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall
TV

Arts and Entertainment
A history of violence: ‘Angry, White and Proud’ looked at the rise of far-right groups

tv

An expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle

Arts and Entertainment

art

Lee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Keaton in the 1998 Beetlejuice original

film

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TV

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

    Holocaust Memorial Day

    Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
    Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

    Magnetic north

    The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
    Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

    Front National family feud?

    Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
    Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

    Pot of gold

    Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
    10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

    From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

    While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
    Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

    'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

    Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore