Deian Timms looks at the persistence of the psychedelic aesthetic in Wales, from Gwenno’s Y Dydd Olaf to Gruff Rhys’s American Interior and beyond, and what this says about cultural loss and the desire for political freedom… Can the psychedelic still be subversive?

Gruff Rhys in American Interior © ie ie productions

© ie ie productions

The psychedelic… What began as a rather bizarre aesthetic style has become commonplace. Its influence has emanated into the mainstream, influencing everything from the world of advertising to children’s television programmes. Some would argue that its subversive nature and countercultural potency are irrelevant by now, something to be dismissed as an outdated cultural quirk. But although it might be a familiar pop cultural motif, the psychedelic still has the capacity to shock. Much like Surrealism, it is a means to bypass the barriers imposed by our socialisation and our limited perception, letting us see things in new and not always comfortable ways.

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