Daniel Mirante :These whorling, dynamic, multidimensional scripture holograms that are currently your signature aesthetic – does this arise out of concept or perception?
Martin Stensaas : Well, These images come from both concept and perception. My first experiences with synesthesia were as a child, having fevers and out-of-body-experiences. In these experiences, knowledge and sensation and ideas became blended into the physical experience. I have returned to this aesthetic in my work more recently. I think the appeal of the synaesthetic look for many people is that it goes one big step closer to the fountain of all thought and feeling. Visionary states of consciousness often have these motifs, and for many viewers, the joining of the mental with the emotional and physical and spiritual is profoundly important to them. I know it is for me. Although my paintings cannot convey that fully, they are a starting place for these types of thoughts and feelings. More recently I have found that esoteric literature and tradition from many cultures has already mapped this terrain of the psyche… So for me it has also become more cerebral, even if it began spontaneously.
Daniel Mirante : The degree of layering in your work… the images seem composed of layers of whirling and evolving script, sigils and symbols. The excitement of discovery is visibly there. Could you describe the various states of being you go through as you create art and access such a state where these ‘fundamental languages’ are emerging through your process?
Martin Stensaas : My process, which develops through these layers, is definitely a discovery. I generally only have a theme, which I pray will permeate the work… And I meditate on the theme while working.
So the states of mind are cerebral at first, like choosing the theme, and then it becomes very intuitive and by feel. I get really enthralled with building the forms out of ribbons of this astral improvisational stuff. I tend to skirt overt symbolism to prevent locking in too soon. The imagery becomes symbolic anyway, when the viewer naturally interprets it. So I don’t avoid symbols, but I don’t rush into them. You said it right: about emerging fundamental language. I want to evoke that mind-stuff which begs symbolic representation and mental insight.
Daniel Mirante : This balancing act between crystallising form but holding back from ‘over-condensation’ is something you’ve mastered well in your work. Do you find in your ‘life style certain things that facilitate this type of contemplation and things that hinder it? Any advice for young artists?
Martin Stensaas by Todd Collins Photograph
Martin Stensaas : Thank you, Daniel, I feel like the balance is better now. My earlier work seems to me now overly constrained. My advice for young artists is go for it. Trust yourself. Let it grow. Don’t be stingey with yourself. Let music be a guide. Keep learning, keep questioning. Do your best. Ask questions of those who know. Study the old masters. Read a lot. Use what you need. You know, all that stuff that’s not in Art School
Daniel Mirante : Lets talk about your new work. Could you explain something a bit about your treatment of the archetypal sphinx, a theme visited by so many symbolist and mystical artists?
Martin Stensaas : Sphinx is an acrylic painting on canvas painted in 2013. This painting is part of a series of images inspired by meditations on themes and energies in the Qabbalistic system. The Sphinx represents a personification of Daath, the mobility of consciousness up and down the middle pillar of equilibrium.
Sphinx – Detail by Martin Stensaas
Archetypically, sphinx imagery in the Greek and Egyptian traditions serves as a guardian to the realm of the timeless and transcendent. Riddles and challenges posed by the Sphinx pertain to knowledge of time and timelessness, and failure to answer the riddle carries a penalty of being devoured. The mixture of chimerical imagery in the beast combines the human, the winged/spiritual, and the animal desires/feline predator.
Daniel Mirante :Fantastic. And also, you have visited another traditional theme this year, Pieta.
Martin Stensaas :This painting developed as a surprise… It began as many others do: open-ended freestyle underpainting with soft color areas. There was no definite structure or plan to it.
Oddly enough, I awoke one morning (the day the Pope resigned) having noticed that much of the composition was very much like Michelangelo’s famous Pieta sculpture. I looked it up and found that the composition was quite close, so I decided to go with that theme. I was surprised to be doing a Mary/Jesus theme… but it was also a continuation of the mystical themes of other recent paintings I have done.
“Pieta” by Martin Stensaas. Acrylic on Canvas. 37″ x 44″
In this painting, the classical theme’s gravity and pathos is giving way to a hypercharged atmosphere in which the figures become both more archetypally mask-like, and more angelic. The theme I explored has more to do with the constancy of death, sacrifice, and resurrection in the natural world. The lush jungle ravine is receiving the cleaned body of Christ. His feet dangle and dissolve in the cool water while the life force dissipates from the translucent supernatural corpse. Mary here embodies the supportive primal ground, the nature field which hosts this endless cycle… displaying both tenderness and resignation. She is depicted here as Our Lady of the Forest, cloaked in floral red, offering up the fruit of life for its continuation.
Daniel Mirante : Thank you for your time and sharing Martin. In great respect and admiration of this work.
Colin Christian is a full time artist, renowned for his sculptures, which draw inspiration from sci-fi movies, anime, ambient electronic music and H.P. Lovecraft.
In 2004 he started using silicone in his sculptures, a difficult material to use but one that helps him achieve his goal of ‘cartoon realism’, a line drawing made flesh.
His work evokes something of the cartoon dimension come to life, with the physicality of sculpture giving his works an added erotic impact. We talk to him about his life, inspirations and artistic process.
It seems like our concept of future space exploration has been conditioned by Star Trek and 1950′s wonder-science… it is harder to imagine space colonized by, say, Brazilian ladies looking for the best beaches in the universe. Do you think humanity will make it into establishing new civilizations in space?
I am an eternal optimist.I do believe we will eventually get to space as a species,any doubts I might have concern what will need to happen to insure us doing so.The vast costs of space travel will have to be shared by nations which in turn means we will have to work together and resolve our current negative opinions of one another.
Anything that helps keep us apart will have to fall,so I do see mass organized religion taking a backseat eventually, but my feeling is it’s not going down without a fight and there lies any worries I might have. We might have to go through the ringer to get to the other side, but get there we will.
I’m interested in what you say about moving to the U.S.A having this strong impact upon your work. Do you think for the artist it is valuable to move to a place where there is a level of unfamiliarity to feed the creative inspiration? Like Gauguin in Tahiti, for instance, or Max Ernst in Sedona? And as the economic climate curdles globally, do you sense a shift in the ideals of American culture?
America was and always will be for me a constant inspiration.It was no accident that my art career did not start until I arrived in the US,as the thought never took root in the UK,a place which I found deadened any creativity I had.
Curious though, that the UK has an opposite effect on musicians, I would argue still that the best music of the last 50 years comes from there, considering the whole place is not much bigger than Florida, quite an achievement.
But for me the US really pushes me to try my best and encourages innovation and enterprise,I met my first Americans when I lived in Morocco aged 16, they were so different from what I knew,the ones I met were basically NY intellectuals and Califonian hippies, they seemed so alive, so encouraging and seemed to reinforce the impression I had from the movies I love so very much. They treated me as equal, no class involved and any thoughts I had on any subject was discussed at length along with theirs, so I shall be forever grateful to them.
I have now been here for nearly 20 years,I am surprised to see just how conservative it can be which was a shock at first,not what I expected at all.It does seem to be on a cultural roller coaster but as in the rest of the world I do believe this will level out as information,education and knowledge will be available to all as never before, the real hope for humanity.
I believe absolutely in life elsewhere,proof of which is right around the corner,and then of course ‘space between space’ of the multiverse,the prospect of which sends me to a giddy intellectual high,the possibilities inspire such optimism which I hope to one day really reflect in my work.
I hold to the idea that nothing we do is of any consequence and at the exact same time everything we do is the most important thing ever done, I ponder this constantly and inside this I truly find peace.
How do you typically start alchemising a concept ? Do you work direct with 3D or sketch up?
I very rarely do sketches,if I do it is just to confirm a stretched line or curve,which basically is the foundation for most of my work,certainly the figures.
Your work exhibits many diverse influence, from car culture, cartoons and european kinkiness… when and how did you start synthesising these inspirations into these very modern representations of the feminine? How do you see these images fitting into the zeitgeist of modern woman?
I was drawing girls as soon as I hit puberty which coincided with me watching Barbarella on TV for the first time.I was a DJ during the 80s at which time I became aware of the S&m subculture at various Goth clubs,and was struck by the confidence that the women displayed,which I greatly admired.It made it into my drawings and paintings of the time but I did not begin sculpture until I arrived in the US in 92.
America was the land of movies, NASA, Apollo,pin up girls and fast cars,I think the move here is what prompted me to start sculpting,I never really could convey on a flat surface what was in my mind,Sas and I formed a latex clothing company so I could transfer my ideas into a 3D medium,had some success but I still felt the need to exaggerate the form even further.
In 94 I had become aware of Anime and along with my interest in the work of Jeff Koons was really responsible for me to try sculpture and nail down the lines in my head.
It was a no brainer to compress all my influences and attempt to convey the feelings I had experienced in those clubs,mostly a sense of awe,which combined with a few giggles is really what I want to convey. My pieces are all larger than life,the intention being to make you feel small from the outset,happily women above all seem to understand where I am coming from,these pieces are after all,cartoons.
The female astronaut for me represents the ultimate in hope,the fact that we collectively would be in space means that all of the old superstitions, hang ups and prejudices will have been left behind,an idealist fantasy which I seem unable to let go of and frankly don’t want to.
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are described in the New Testament of the Bible called the Book of Revelation of Jesus Christ to Saint John the Evangelist. In God’s right hand is a book/scroll sealed with seven seals. Jesus opens the first four of the seven seals, which summons forth four beings that ride out on white, red, black, and pale (or green) horses. The four riders are commonly seen as symbolizing Conquest, War, Famine, and Death, respectively. The Christian apocalyptic vision is that the four horsemen are to set a divine apocalypse upon the world as harbingers of the Last Judgment.
Green Angel of Rebirth, Transcending Death
While the word apocalypse is often defined as “the complete final destruction of the world, or an event involving destruction or damage on a catastrophic scale”, the etymology of the word “apocalypse” is the Greek “apokaluptein” (from apo- “un-” + kaluptein “to cover”) meaning “uncover” or “reveal”. The apocalypse then, can be seen as a revealing of something that has been hidden.
The year 2012 has been prophesied by several cultures as the “end of time” and many have interpreted this as meaning the end of Earth. Fundamentalist religious groups await the destruction of the world, which will supposedly bring the return of a messiah or savior and the “chosen ones” will be saved or spared. While the figure is different according to each religion, the storyline remains essentially the same, and looking more deeply into the symbolism of these religions, we find one story told around the world. This singular story, told across all cultures and religions since the beginning, has a much deeper cosmological interpretation when seen through myth and archetype.
Our quest is to envision the concept of an apocalypse, not as the destruction or annihilation of the world, but as an awakening that will enable the creation of a liberated new world. While there is often chaos before creation, death before rebirth (the Italian Renaissance was preceded by rampant wars and plagues), it is in seeing the greater picture as a whole that these forces can be better understood. Catastrophic influences exist at every scale- from the microcosmic, to the macrocosmic planetary and galactic scales. Destructive urges within humanity exist to be reconciled as expressions of collective unconscious energy, understood as symbolic acts of recreating past events, in order that they may be healed and transformed. By focusing on the transcendent opposites of these archetypal forces, we call forth the inner light to cast its resplendent rays into the shadows and awaken the sleeper.
The end of a time does not signify the end of life, only the beginning of a new era yet to come. If one meditates upon the paradox and seeming contradictions held within these compositions, an illuminating beam of gnosis may emerge from the innermost self. This heightened awareness ceases to define existence through distinctions of polarity, but instead recognizes an interconnectedness and unity underlying all life. Layers of metaphorical meaning await our inquiry, for these four paintings tell numerous stories which overlay many interpretations (mythic, religious, scientific, astronomical, cosmological, etc.) as they offer many points of entry along the journey to Truth.
Notes on the symbology:
White Angel of Liberation Vanquishing Conquest
A re-visioning of the well-known “Birth of Venus” paintings, with a deeper understanding of the planet Venus as the Great Comet of antiquity, and identifying the Birth of Venus as an actual event in the beginning of recorded history. Venus was once a beautiful and terrifying comet and the Saturnian planetary configuration created a cataclysmic event that shaped human consciousness, often referred to across cultures as “the great battle in the heavens”.
A Thunderbolt Caduceus (symbolizing both healing as well as the cosmic plasma discharge formation) points down to a military graveyard on the reddish planet, Mars. The goddess is crowned by her planet’s orbital pattern as seen from Earth, the five inferior conjunctions of Venus.
The drive for conquest and subjugation is a collective expression of an unconscious fear of being annihilated, perhaps by a great planetary cataclysm. Understanding the truth of ancient history and bringing to light collective unconscious memory is a path to freedom. True liberation is immune to subjugation and defies conquest; the goddess/planet Venus also represents love and is known as the “morning star” signifying the arrival of the dawn after a period of darkness.
Red Angel of Peace Overcoming War
The planet Mars is the archetypal warrior-hero, the ultimate model for kings in all civilizations and cultures worldwide.
In this interpretation, peace is found through accepting and forgiving violence and upheaval in the past. The intense planetary interactions between Mars and Venus in the prehistorical epoch continue to affect the core of humanity, as all war is an unconscious expression of the collective human trauma incurred when Earth experienced destruction and violence on a planetary scale as a result of cosmic events.
Wearing the crown of Venus, the Angel of Peace creates a bridge to this ancient story. Plasma discharge flows from her crown to electrically sculpt and scar the entire surface of Mars, illuminated in the distinct and clear scalloped detail of the Olympus Mons Caldera.
The current scientific interpretation of Olympus Mons is that of a shield volcano, although it matches none of the characteristics of the shield volcanoes known on Earth. Rising above the volcanic landscape (transcending old-paradigm understanding as well as the destruction symbolized by the volcano’s eruption), the Angel of Peace holds in her hands a white pigeon- an apt symbol for peace in the modern urban environment.
Four Angels of the Apocalypse
Black Angel of Abundance Relieving Famine
The idea that there are limited resources, or finite supplies of energy (whether on Earth or beyond) is due to a lack of true understanding. The Universe is 99% plasma. It is electrical in nature and is made up of an infinitely available energy. This energy is the source and substance of all matter. Once humanity learns how to stop burning fossil fuels, competing for resources and how to source free energy from the Electric Universe, there may be no more famine, no lack.
The Angel of Abundance hovers over a parched and cracked desert landscape, offering the infinite source of sustaining energy to reawaken the true awareness of the life force. In her hands, upper atmospheric sprites flash, translating cosmic energy to Earth. Helical circuits and bead lightning constitute the birthplace of stars in the cosmos.
The Angel’s crown is a crop circle, symbolizing the cosmic infinitude of life. The world-wide crop circle phenomenon presents information in the form of mathematical codes and geometrical patterns, while also infusing this information into food source crops, sharing galactic intelligence with humanity on a sub-cellular level.
Green Angel of Rebirth, Transcending Death
This piece recognizes humanity’s use of nuclear power as fundamentally destructive (as evidenced by the nuclear devastation of Chernobyl and Fukushima). The current hypothesis of gravitational cosmology regards our Sun (and all stars) as thermonuclear reactors. The Electric Universe offers a transcendent understanding of stars as electrodynamic phenomena, redefining our concept of energy and leaving behind the old-paradigm nuclear model.
The Angel of Rebirth rises above a nuclear explosion, beneath which the skull of a baby glows amongst the masses of the dead. Above the mushroom cloud, an aurora shimmers (a subtle reference to Kristian Birkeland’s theory that the Aurora is due to ‘charged particle beams’ from the Sun, which has only recently been confirmed).
The Angel offers up an egg, the symbol of life and fertility, within which a human fetus awaits genesis, signifying the birth of a new consciousness. From the Angel’s crown, a chrysanthemum blooms. This flower is symbolic of death and grief in many countries such as Japan, Korea and China, as well as in Europe, but it is generally regarded as positive and cheerful throughout most of the United States. While the chrysanthemum serves as a reminder of new life emerging from death and decay, it also suggests that what is good for some may bring suffering for others.
Similarly to all objective processes, Art represents an energy flow, which has its own beginning, length and end. Like all things, it has own conception, birth, childhood, youth, maturity, old age and finally death, with the destruction of the body. The energy duration could be imagined as a sinusoid, with its starting point at the zero ground, which goes on upwards to its culmination of development–the Apogee–and then it descends back again to the point of zero. This way, it could be imagined as one of those thousand-year cycles in a chain. Countless cycles preceded it, and new countless cycles to come will continue this eternal vibration, like the heart beats, like inhalations and exhalations, like ebb and flow, like day and night, up to the end of being. A force for the continuation of the everlasting immanent sinusoid comes from the zero point, which is always unchangeable. The point of Zero, although it depicts an image of the nothingness, is a symbol of the ultimate Transcendence and this is the only unchanging Eternity.
A starting process is always constructive, and therefore any beginning cannot start from destruction. It means that art in its youth, in its starting point could be only constructive, purely spiritual, and in this state still close to the Transcendent. Even if the art was not so technically developed, it was still healthy and had a huge potentiality of growth. Such a sort of art we can see in the history of the early ages of the present humanity on the murals of the caves of Altamira and Lascaux, in sculptural works, such as Venus of Willendorf or Venus of Kostenki. This is a sacred and shamanic art, wild and rough, but there it is already possible to notice a way of a certain stylization and one can find there some sort of an artistic language. As an example of the highest point of the sinusoid, as a point of the perfection of the technical skill in the visual arts, where ripe, matured human personality had been harmoniously combined with the still non-lost connection with the spiritual, we can probably point out the Renaissance, as well as the Baroque.
The whole period of the art historical and simultaneously a social development of a human person had very bright evolutionary features; everything followed in order and could continue this natural flow for ages, until the process of evolution was blown up by a revolution. The European “Enlightenment”, with a help of a mass education has become a catalyst of a new civil self-identity. Since then, the process has changed a nature and trajectory. The Pre-Modern part of the white man’s history has ended, and a new “educated” person has got new features: “own will” and “own concept”, which could differ and which could contradict or be even much more advanced than that one, which was accepted by the state and church hierarchy. If in the past it was a fate of the individuals, like Galileo Galilei, Leonardo da Vinci or Nicolaus Copernicus, now the possibility has become available for the masses. So, since then the “new person” could not tolerate the traditional old system of values and a form of state as its projection. The first bell-ring of such a revolution of consciousness had sounded on the scaffolds and guillotines of the British and French coup d’états, and was immediately reflected in art. We can hear its echo in the paintings of Delacroix, Gericault and in the tragic themes of Goya. A new bright feature of a mentality of that period–a neurotic euphoric state of the romantic attitude to the new social reality. Romanticism itself had become a new belief and a charm for this new, “liberated” man. The ecstatic neuroticism, which has appeared in this period in art, reflected a new state of the person, which obtained a new form of Ego. The conventionally high education formed a new outlook, where religion got a very small space. Starting from that time, among of the “educated”, “progressive” people to be religious, almost automatically meant to be ignorant. So, a “new man” had subconsciously started to sense a danger of a disconnection with the divine Transcendental, and at the same time to feel a sort of exaltation as an effect of the self-will. Those also were the first steps of the “prodigal son” in the spiritual aberration on the art paths. It was the start of the epoch of the Big Modern.
One of the results of the Second World War was the disillusionment in the ideal of the “new man”. It was disillusionment in the failure of the romantic idealism. The post-war generation, having seen millions the killed and suffering across Europe, got a feeling of a certain falsehood in the values of Romanticism, and started to doubt in its potential as a main stream of the way of a social thought development. As a reaction, there was the total rejection of all that had even a slightest connection with the romantic and idealistic. Some artists of the new Avant-guard decided to reject all that which had any connection to the human feelings, seeing in them a danger of the future relapse of a romantic war. Dehumanization by destruction of the human image and just of any live form in art has become the main stream of the artistic thought of Modernism.
However, a different part of the art society, which still believed in humanism and in the centuries-old cultural and art traditions, reacted differently, calling everyone to the “return to order”, and to get a new look at the humanism. They came to be called the ‘Neo-Romantics’.
They believed in man and his potentiality. The Neo-Humanists, Neo-Romantics, who have got the knowledge of the new psychological research, saw a human being through the prism of new anthropological doctrines, and their way became alternative to the art of the Avant-gardists (the Post-Humanists).
Thus in 1910-1920s, the Art, as a holistic energy stream was separated into two parts, according to the belief in humanity and humaneness itself, to the human sensuality and emotionality, to the sensation and the connection to the Transcendent itself. The first part, which was represented by the Neo-Humanistic art and which struggled for the “art salvation”, has become a natural continuation of the Evolutionary development; but the second one — art of the dehumanization, art created by the post-human pioneers, so-called “Modernists”, appeared as the anti-human Revolutionary art trend. The sources of the art of both these art branches were very different; the humanistic art had a source in the human soul, which is always connected to the Transcendent; but the post-human art of Modernists had originated in the mental constructs of the dual mind, which is closed to the Divine, and cut off from the Transcendent.
It is amazing to notice that from that time (perhaps starting with the Douchamp’s urinal in 1917) they still didn’t make a step forward in relations with the people. They shout that even Karl Marx wrote that only an artistically educated man can understand and enjoy art. So, even if Marx wrote not about Modernism, according to the point of view of the Modernists, most people must see themselves as uneducated sub-humans, animals, like “Mules, without understanding” (see more on this theme at http://www.meaus.com/0-151-korolev-2.htm )
Of course, it is true that most people hated this sort of modern art in the past, and they continue to hate it in the present. Why? The point is that this modern art is dehumanized, but people are still human! What does it mean? Dehumanization, first of all it is a refusal of any connection to the Transcendent. Transcendent ability is what makes a human being to be human. A beast has no such feature, so it cannot attain Enlightenment, Liberation and Salvation. Without Transcendence, a man really becomes a sort of a beast, or in this context–a post-human.
Modernism has devalued the soul, sensations, and sensuality. All that which it could do is to warp all natural forms, build from them some cubes and other geometrical things to prove the correctness of the most proud egocentric, materialistic rationality to take rise over all the living divine creation. Modernism could not tolerate any spirituality and religiosity, just because its adepts had no personal connection with the Spirit.
The Modernists perceive all the spiritual, visionary and imaginative works as being “too melodramatic”, “kitschy”, “surfeit of spiritual”.
The problem is that they, saying this about the live human art, told the truth! But, this was their own truth, which came from the sensation of their own “reality”! We cannot judge them for this, as we cannot judge the insane or dead. They “saw” this world exactly this way. So, they didn’t lie! Their souls simply had no any chance to respond to any spiritual maters, just because of the lack of any ability to do that.
It is impossible to say that Modernists, and nowadays the Post-Modernists, are untalented and they cannot have own fans even among of the morally and spiritually non-decadent art audience. However, it is necessary to remember that destruction and decay also can be sort of beautiful, and an explosion and death, or even suffering, can look aesthetic.
Sometimes, for someone for psychological reasons–maybe when one has a too brutal and non-moving mentality–it is necessary to blast it as an ice-jam on the river in the spring, and Modernism, perhaps can be helpful in it. Such a person can even feel some relief. But still, one needs to remember that it is a destruction of the natural flow and humanism.
Originally, all state institutions didn’t accept Modernists, seeing their “deconstructivism”, as they called it, and called it their enemies – “degeneration”, of the cultural values of the nations generated by ages. In 1930s, the European Modernists were pushed out to emigrate from the continental Nazi Europe to the United States, and since they were mostly the “Left” political persuasion (of the Trotsky type). Initially, they were considered by the US Government to be also a part of the “Red Threat”. But, in spite of the prospering Modern Classicism in America of that period, it was the same way as in the Third Reich and Soviet Union. In spite of the fact that some US Congressmen were against of the support and sponsorship of the Revolutionary artists of Modernism, very soon their counter-cultural gist was obviously found out as a friendly to the “Melting pot” concept, as well as there was found a way to repurchase a big part of those pro-Communists, Modernists artists of the Avant-garde and turn them into kind of Liberals (Democrats) and even Liberal-fundamentalists (Neo-Conservatives).
Thus they killed two birds with one stone: Pro-Communist (Pro-Trotskyists) artists, the potential agents of Comintern, have become Democrats and thus their destructive force was directed not against of the Capitalists of the United States, but against Communists of the Stalin’s type, considering that they already were their enemies. It is necessary to say that it was a masterful move of the US secret services, and here they played their part of a Paganini, if we compare them to the awkward and imprudent play of the Soviet Cultural Department.
Since then, in 1950s, the “Avant-garde”, the pioneering part of the of the ideological post-humans in art, got a new name of the “Contemporary art” and thus, the Revolutionary art branch set up a claim to all present time itself, making the Evolutionary art being illegal not only in space of the art field, but in the time continuum itself. Since then, all other art was automatically labeled as old fashioned, even though it was created in the present time. It has become one more brilliant trick and substitution of the notions in the frames of the Cultural Cold War, which was conducted by the USA against the USSR. The “Contemporary art” has become the only art acceptable, and all the rest of art has become either non-art at all, or still an art but non-contemporary, outdated. The Evolutionary art got the labels of “Nazi Kunst”, “Communist art”, “Conservative art” etc. This way, all sorts of Figurative, Imaginative, Visionary art, even of the highest artistic levels were marginalized, and posed rather as Craft (similar to the wood carving or embroidery); artists of the Evolutionary art had become to be considered instead as artisans, and the art galleries, which still represented this sort of art were instead perceived as art shops, sothey could not have a major role, or even any minor role on the art market.
Actually, there is nothing new and surprising in the fact that some country conducts a certain art policy which expresses its own ideology via the art visualization, elevating some styles and lowering the importance of the others, by the means of setting up certain art canons. Such a behavior was normal in all civilizations, starting maybe with ancient Egypt, Greece and Babylon. In the USSR and also in the Third Reich, it also was their art and cultural politics, but it was proclaimed openly and was openly sponsored by the state. Very unlike from the United States, where this kind of sponsorship was of a secret character. The point is: Modernism in USA had to be posed as a “free art” of the “free world”, in the opposition to the “non-free art” of the “non-free world”. So, US government, which established this system and rules and spread them also around the countries of the all “free world”, by the reasons of the officially stated “ideology of freedom”, could not publically admit that there is some censorship in art. The censorship had a hidden character, and it was carried out by financial and media mechanisms, by the cutting out of the politically unwanted artists from the art market, by a marginalization and concealment of their art activity and thus, dooming the artists, due to the total lack of funds to death by hunger or to compel them to change their occupations. The same vein, they would not publicly admit that they sponsored those Modernists loyal to the regime (by opening them all the doors and supporting all their steps which were necessary in the propagandists’ play of the Cultural Cold War).
The secrecy of the ongoing Cultural Cold War has become a very big problem for artists of the Evolutionary stream in the West. They, also being politically loyal to the Democratic states, could not understand why their art, while having incomparably higher artistic level, due to the value of the ideas and skill, could not be exhibited in most of the important art galleries and museums. Why could they not be accepted in the art market, why did not the art critics pay any attention to their art, why did they call it “Nazi Kunst”, “Communist art”, “Conservative art” or “Kitsch”? Such situations were faced by and still are faced by thousands of artists! Usually, when they come to some important gallery to show art works, the most polite answer they hear: “Sorry, we do not exhibit this style”. So, such an artist understands nothing, and he or she is just overwhelmed. The artist thinks that he did his best, and sees that his works are much better than many of those, which are represented by the galleries. But in most cases, the poor wretch comes to accept that a problem is with in his works, in his art, thinking that maybe he is not talented enough. The artist cannot even imagine that the problem is not in him because he is healthy, but that the problem is with the present mainstream of art itself, – the former “Revolutionary” art branch, which occupied the whole art scene, and which is spiritually sick. The artist cannot realize that the problem is in the art system, which still acts as a hidden tool of the Cultural war, passing off a genuine Soviet-style of the “Planning economics” as the “Free market” of Capitalism.
Some years ago, a similar situation happened to a Norwegian fellow named Odd Nerdrum; being a talented and devoted “Evolutionary” artist, he was refused by the “Revolutionary”, but politically corrupted art system and it made him to draw some conclusions, which only were possible to do in that time and that place. He recalls: “Even though I was captured by art early in life, I soon came into contact with something else. By the age of 20, I was caught up by the red light of the sunset. Still I heard my stepfather’s warning: “Remember the moderns. This go well for them. If you go on like this, you will do badly”. As I forced my way into the art world in the late 1960′s, I could hear the echo of his words in my head. The reactions to my work were ferocious. The harassment I was put through had deeper roots than the opposition against Edvard Munch, which soon turned into a noisy adoration as he became a Modernist. At the time I understood that something was wrong, but exactly what was beyond of my comprehension. I tried to act like an artist to the best of my abilities, and for many years I actually believed I was an artist. The first time I got an idea of what might be wrong in the late 1970′s. I had been allowed to hang two of my larger paintings &endash; ‘Arrest’ and ‘The Murder of Andereas Baader’ — in the new students house at the University of Oslo. I must confess I had bribed the board with prints, though this was at time where artists were paid to exhibit. However, I felt it served its purpose as long as I could fulfill the dream of seeing my larger compositions displayed to the public. They were beautifully hung above a staircase, which almost looked like a Caravaggio chapel. But it did not take long before someone disliked the show. A committee at the Academy of Art had decided that the paintings on this particular staircase had to come down. They surprised me with the letter saying that “All decorations” had to be removed within a fortnight. Than I ran into one of those who had made the decision, the recognized artist Arvid Pettersen. I looked him straight in the eyes and asked: “How could you do this to a colleague?”. He just stared at me and could not answer. Then I got the feeling he had understood something I had not: That I wasn’t an artist.”
Odd Nerdrum - Twin Mothers
It is only possible to imagine the nightmare condition for the pure artist to refuse himself to be an artist! This is a sort of a personality suicide! It is a murder of the self-identity! We must remember that through this, the Modernists slaughter-house destroyed generations of artists!
So, if an artist makes a conclusion that he is not an artist, then who he is? Since a human mind always looks for some explanations and Odd, being non aware that he is just one more victim of the Cultural Cold War, appealed to some sources, which could give him an idea about his new self-identity. As he wrote, his stepfather warned him not to paint the beauty of the sunset; it can be considered as too human, too melodramatic and too kitschy. For that reason, his works would not be accepted in the exhibition of the Modern art. So, Odd confesses in the memoirs that this warning of the probable reaction to the work as to a “melodrama” and “kitsch” has become a core of the new artistic self-identity. Since the art world has rejected him with his sincere views, but he still could not refuse not to depict living beings&emdash;that with which his heart resonated and where he saw the eternal Truth–he accepted that he was not an artist anymore, and if the nature and Universe of the feelings means to be Kitsch, so then, damn, he is a Kitsch painter!
When we say “kitsch”, we usually mean what is defined in the “Pocket Oxford Dictionary” (the kitsch n. (often attrib.) vulgar, pretentious, or worthless art. kitschy adj. (-ier, -iest). [German]). To say “kitsch” is the same as to say “bad taste”. Nevertheless, an inner demand of the new self-identity and the very complex wound, brought by the art world impact, which obviously destroyed the Gestalt, required a finding of some previous, solid tradition which could become a base of the sort of justification of the activity. So, he and later his pupils, assistants and followers (the art world rejected thousands of the brilliant talents!), looked for some separate casual notes and phrases in the philosophical texts and art criticism, for at least some hints of the presence of “Kitsch” in the history. They strongly needed to be able to make the case to defend themselves from the world of the modern art, and what is the most important, they needed a self- argument foundation of the Kitsch, as a self-identity Gestalt cycle finishing. So, they built a sort of a sectarian art history, a sort of philosophical compilation, which, of course is wide open to criticism. Usually they appeal to Aristotle, Hegel and Kant, because these authorities mentioned two sorts of the creative activity, and one of them was closer by meaning to “kitsch” and the other described the “art”. Some of the “Kitsch theorist” even said: “Rembrandt was not an artist because the Art ideology was not invented in his time”. So, they obviously try to convince themselves that art itself has appeared together with some art theory or art ideology, and thus do not notice how their views become equal to the Modernist theorists views, which start the “modern art” ( we remember: all the rest is a non-modern and outdated, even if it produced today) not from the natural and sacred interaction of a man and Nature via its visual expression (starting from the shamans of Paleolithic era), but from some interpretations of the mentally constructed theories of the Big Modern period.
If we continue this discourse, we will beeven able to come to the conclusion that the Kitsch movement, just only because of the basing of its theory on the same ground as this do contemporary art critics,( the soldiers of the cultural Cold war), it is just one more Post-Modernists art movement, but with a difference from its mainstream, by imitating of the manner “as though” of the Old Masters and cultivating the “as though” a human sensuality on the “as though” full seriousness.
Odd Nerdrum - Look at my beauty
The point is: the basic feature of Modernism and Post-modernism is to have a source in the word of some art critic or philosopher, and then to follow due to their calculations further, but a the most fundamental principle of a free art, which is not infected by Modernism, is to have a source in the independent and even intimate vision of artist. “Contemporary art” is an art of art commissars, it is art Bolshevism, it is a dictatorship. But the Evolutionary, original, real art is always a way of freedom of the individual and his relationships with the Eternity.
Furthermore, as we already know, art as an objective energetic process cannot originate from destruction, which represented Modernism. If we wish to find a beginning, we must look for the pure spiritual, subtle part of the process, not the decadent and brutal.
It is curious, that the greatest evil (they found a new image of Satan ! huh! ) for the “Kitsch theorists” represents Emmanuel Kant, who spoke about conventional and unconditional sorts of beauty, and who drew a line between the utilitarian “partial” aesthetic attitude and a pure, a non-biased appreciation of beauty. He said that a judgment of taste is not dialectically cognizing, it is non-logical, but an aesthetic judgment; it means that a judgment which determines its basis, can be only subjective”. In his work “Critique of Judgment” Kant emphasized that the pleasure which determines the aesthetic judgment of taste, is free from any practical interest. He wrote: “Everyone should agree that judgment about beauty, which involves some admixing of even a slightest interest, is very partial (biased) and it is not a pure judgment of taste. Therefore, being the judge in the questions of taste, it is impossible to be interested in existence of the thing even in the slightest degree; in this relation it is necessary to be completely indifferent”. So he said that every utilitarian, practical, ideological etc. interest leads not to the real aesthetic delight, but to a practical pleasure, which can seem to be a pleasant or good thing, according to the premise of the “partial” prejudice.
And just this we can say about Odd Nerdrum! He meets Kant’s definition of the follower of pure art! If he were a morally corrupt person, he would find a way to create that sort of “art” which could be accepted by the committee at the Oslo’s Academy of Art and which would correspond to the “partial” tastes of the modern art scene. He would even fall to the temptations of his stepfather: not to paint the red sunset, otherwise his works will not be accepted for exhibition! Of course, he could know that producing “Contemporary art” is just a matter of calculation (like Edvard Munchdid it, by turning into a Modernist)!
The entire “Contemporary art” is just an utter way of the calculated, mentally constructed (and even not by artists, but by some art curators, art critics and galerists) production of the total and totalitarian Conformism of the “free world”! “Contemporary artist” is an oxymoron!
They say that the non-Contemporary, “traditional” artist produces “illustrations”, but a Contemporary artist manifests “information”, never realizing that the narration of the humanist artist is his own, unique and independent, but the Contemporary artist exactly illustrates the Theory of modern art, which is created not by him, but by some art critics, hired by their common patrons.
How he can be an independent artist in the field of the “Contemporary art” (in Kant’s definition), a free creator, if he is just a slave, an executor of the curator’s will, an eater of grants and a dependent on the political conjuncture?! A “real artist” of the Contemporary art today is the curator, who orders the theme, the ideology and who knows how to find grants. Odd Nerdrum, on the other hand, has chosen a pure beauty and a pure aesthetics of the non utilitarian, indifferent and independent to the “partial” taste, red sunset! His taste is not just pure, but it is honest, moral and became even heroic under the threat of the marginalization and a total ban on his artistic occupation. Actually, if Kant were alive today, of course he would choose to side with Nerdrum, because today’s modern art scene represents a total “partial” and even corporate taste, which doesn’t come from the pure and non-biased aesthetics, but is based on the political Liberal-fundamentalist dictatorship. So, present state of the art world has nothing in common with the ideas of aesthetics and beauty at all, and more so it has nothing in common with ideas of Kant. It is a direct result of the Cultural war, which the “free world” conducted against of the “totalitarian regimes” and nothing else. And it can be easily proven by a simple scale of the current “Art Rank (2010)” ( provided by site artfacts.net), comparing the leading artists of the USSR and the Third Reich (for example, sculptors Vera Mukhina and Josef Thorak, whose pieces were exhibited alongside one another at the Paris’s Salon of 1937) with the current leaders.
“Art Rank (2010)”
Nr. 1 Andy Warhol
Nr. 2 Pablo Picasso
Nr 3 Bruce Naumaz
Nr. 4 Gerhard Richter
Nr. 5 Joseph Beuys
Nr. 12521 Vera Mukhina
Nr. 50947 Josef Thorak
If the result of the Cultural war had been different (accept it as an Anti-utopia!) , we would probably see, in case of the Third Reich, this kind of a rank:
Nr.1 Josef Thorak
Nr. 2 Arno Breker
Nr. 3 Adolf Ziegler
Nr. 4 Hubert Lanzinger
Nr. 5 Filippo Tommaso Marinetti
Nr. 12521 Pablo Picasso
Nr. 50947 Andy Warhol
Had the USSR won in the Cold War, maybe we would see a rank like this:
Nr 1 Vera Mukhina
Nr. 2 Alexander Deineka
Nr. 3 Evgeni Vuchetich
Nr. 4 Pavel Korin
Nr. 5 José David Alfaro Siqueiros
Nr. 12521 Pablo Picasso
Nr. 50947 Andy Warhol
Warhol and Picasso would not have even a slightest chance to get a rank higher than 10,000. So their art would be considered rather as artifact of the past, the art of the defeated regimes, than art itself, the same way as now they list as Nr. 12521 for Vera Mukhina, and Nr. 50947 for Josef Thorak.
Probably, somebody will say that the winners define not only some historical estimations, but also which art is on the top and which artists are the best, – and they would be right. However, at the same time they must accept that the top listed artists are considered great not because they are such, but because they were assigned to be “great artists”. So this is a matter only of politics.
What kind of Art Rating will be offered in the future by China? We must only guess…
Well, today’s Art Rank of Odd Nerdrum is Nr. 8708, so he is far from the top ratings, in the same way that he is far from the political conjuncture, and this fact points exactly to his really free and pure sense of Art, in the Kantian sense. He has chosen a way of the passive resistance to the “Contemporary art” via naming of himself a ‘Kitsch painter’. For an artist to call himself a “kitsch painter” (if, of course, he is a non-”Kitsch theorist”), means to be a vulgar, pretentious, or worthless artist (according to “Pocket Oxford Dictionary”). To say it in a nutshell: it is a shame, which is probably imitates the Christ’s shame when he carried His Cross to the Calvary. A shame, which has become a Glory!
Today the “Kitsch” or “Vulgar, pretentious, or worthless artists” group consists of: Odd Nerdrum, Adam Miller, Aarrestad Uldalen, Agostino Arrivabene, Anders Ramberg, Anton Bauer, Aleksander Ballos, Adriano Fida, Alexei Golovin, Allesandro Bulgarini, Ariane Krischke, Antonio de Chiara, Aarrestad Uldalen, Billy Roy Økland, Boris Koller, Brandon Kralik, Caitlin Karolczak, Camilla Marie Paulsen, Carline Seiser, Carlo Alberto Palumbo, Cedric Charleuf, Conor Walton, David Bruun-Lie, David Dalla Venezia, Davood Zandian, Drago Dosen, Francisco Benitez, Gerald Bliem, Gianluca Franzese, Gregory Watson, Gunnar Haslund, Gustav Sundin, Hanna Cecilie Skurdal, Hege Elisabeth Haugen, Hege Haugen, Helene Knoop, Henrik Aarrestad Uldalen, Ibolya Csan´sdi, Jan Esmann, Jan-Ove Tuv, Joakim Ericsson, Jonathan Matthews, Jonny Andvik, Kaja Norum, Kasra Paydavousi, Luke Hillestad, Marco Chiuchiarelli, Maria Fröman, Mattias Sammekull, Mikael Bonnevie, Monika Helgesen, Odin Borgen, Osiris Rain, Richard Thomas Scott, Richard Murdock, Robert Dale Williams, Roberto Ferri, Rossati Ticcardo, Sampo Kaikkonen, Sergio Vidal, Shane Young, Steven Lawler, Thomas Jørgen Klevjer, Tom Wharton, Trine Folmoe, Vala Ola (some art critics already call the style as “High Kitsch”). And this is already not only a way for self-identity, this is an offer of a model of the resistance for the really independent and free artists.
This is a way, a method of the continuation of the Evolution of Art, a continuation of the energy sinusoid, in the situation when the “Contemporary art”, the politically corrupted, former Revolutionary art of the Avant-garde, establishes its totalitarian rules. They cannot openly proclaim some open resistance, because the art decadents already call their art as ‘Nazi Kuns’t, ‘Communist art’ or ‘Conservative art’ only because they continue the traditions which are rooted in the very youth of the humankind. They carry the name of “Kitsch” and thus avoid a direct attack, being formally “non artists”, but “kitsch painters” from those who promote the fake, “partial”, biased taste, backed with nothing, except of conjuncture, the same way as the printed green paper is backed by nothing except of the monetarist’s politics of interest rate usury. They remain those who continue to believe in the red sunset, in the eternal values, they are those, who mint the real treasures in spite of all, in spite of the shameful name! They are the men with the golden coins.
Rurik is a legendary viking, a founder of the princely dinasty of Rus.
Rørik, ( Old Scandinavian, South Danish) «*HróþiR» – “Glory” («Слава» – Glory in Russian “Slava”). Slav-onic people – People of “Slava” = People of Glory.
He is depicted as a magician, as a warrior in the mystical sense, which has alchemically transformed
the Scandinavian to the Slavonic. The dragon head of the bow of the Viking battle ship Drakar in his hand has becoming a birch tree, a symbol of Rus.
Rune “R” – “Raido” symbolizes : the Raid, Journey, Way, Path ( Dao ). The Path of R: Raido>R>Rurik>Rus>Russia.
Rørik, ( Old Scandinavian, South Dannish) «*HróþiR» – “Glory” ( Glory in Russian “Slava”). Slav-onic people – People of “Slava” = People of Glory.
Russia being started as a Raid of Rurik, has become a Path of Glory.
Holy Russian Ax.
Oil. Canvas. 60x80cm 2012
The ax of the Russian god Perun is someway similar to Vadjra. It symbolizes a spiritual lightening and a cut-off attachments.
In general the Slavonic native religions have a lot in common with the rest of the Indo-European spiritual traditions and have a direct connection to Vedanta. A Russian word Veda (t’) means “to know” or just a “knowledge”, “awareness”, came from Sanskrit.
This is a knowledge, awareness and an especial sort of Weltanschauung, which energy is still hiding under the thousand years of the suppressions.
An energy as invincible, as unwinnable the “defeated” ethnic gods. They just wait in the wings.
This adaptation of my introduction to True Visions (Betty Books, 2006) first appeared in the COSM Journal, issue 4.
The sad truth about descriptive categories like “visionary art” is that they are both useful and lame. Especially in the art world, the language of genres and styles often has more to do with galleries and critics than with making and enjoying art. But reflecting about categories can also be fruitful, because it shapes the context of our seeing—and more importantly, the way we share and talk about our seeing. So here is my seed crystal: visionary art is art that resonates with visionary experiences, those undeniably powerful eruptions of numinous and multidimensional perception that suggest other orders of reality.
Certain individuals have a predilection for visionary experiences, but these luminous glimpses bless us all at some point in our lives—sometimes through intentionally induced trance states or psychoactive raptures, and sometimes through the gratuitous grace of deep dreams or the demented funhouse of a quasi-schizophrenic break. But we also understand and experience visionary experience through visionary culture, those artifacts of human culture with its eyes agog.
From the perspective of the mainstream art system, however, visionary art could be seen as an attempt to broaden and extend the notion of the outsider artist—those creative madmen, religious eccentrics, and poor folk considered to be outside the boundaries of conventional art history. The American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, for example, describes its collection as “art produced by self-taught individuals, usually without formal training, whose works arise from an innate personal vision that revels foremost in the creative act itself.” That’s all fine and well, and the museum is cool, but this definition is pretty lacking. By insisting that visionary artists are self-taught, the AVAM implies that visionary art is not found inside the schools, movements, or lineages that compose the dominant flows of art history. It becomes a purely idiosyncratic affair, reduced to the solitary, obsessive individual, a Simon Rodia or a Howard Finster. But many visionary artists—by my definition—are and have been formally educated. More importantly, many visionary artists self-consciously locate their work within a lineage of inspired image-makers that stretches back through generations of Surrealist dreamers, mystic minimalists, and medieval icon painters. Abstract art, the most exalted and intellectualized gesture of the modernist avant-garde, actually emerged from a lotus pond of theosophy, spiritualism, and occult meditation practices.
The historical lineage of visionary artists masks a deeper and more commanding claim that sets the genre apart from the marvelous idiosyncrasies of outsider art. The claim is that the visionary artist gives personal expression to a transpersonal dimension, a cosmic plane that uncovers the nature that lies beyond naturalism, and that reveals, not an individual imagination, but an imaginal world, a mundus imaginalis. Far from being outside, this world lies within. Henry Corbin, the brilliant twentieth century scholar of Sufism, coined the term mundus imaginalis to describe the ‘alam al-mithal, the visionary realm where prophetic experience is said to literally take place. It is a realm of the imagination, but a true imagination that has a claim on reality because it mediates between the sensual world and the higher abstract realms of angelic or cosmic intelligences. The mundus imaginalis is a place of encounter and transformation. “Is it possible to see without being in the place where one sees?” asks Corbin, throwing down the gambit of visionary experience. “Theophanic visions, mental visions, ecstatic visions in a state or dream or of waking are in themselves penetrations into the world they see.”
From the perspective of planetary culture, we might broaden Corbin’s definition to include the visionary domains that are associated with cultural traditions and holy paths throughout (and perhaps beyond) human history. The worlds visited by the shaman, the seer, the sibyl, and the prophet are all outposts of the mundus imaginalis. But this imaginal world is also produced through the labor of traditional sacred artists, who have incarnated these visions in the mythic maps, sacred geometries, and iconographies of tribes and cultures the world over. When contemporary visionary artists appropriate and sample aspects of these different cultural traditions, these different domains begin to appear, for all their differences, as a single space of the transpersonal imagination, an immense vibrating network of sacred zones and forms. That’s how the mundus imaginalis grows truly global.
Of course, the meaning and function of visionary art in the traditional cultures of the premodern world is vastly different than contemporary art practices—something the more romantic proponents of today’s visionary art sometimes forget. The “visions” captured in the premodern era are, with some exceptions (Bosch and Hildegard of Bingen come to mind), collective constructs, rendered by artists working anonymously within highly conservative cultural codes, and with little conception of “art” as we know it. Even in the individualistic West, artists were constrained by strict conventions and ecclesiastic expectations. Here the example of the Orthodox icon painter looms large: though the theology of the icon is one of the most powerful and sophisticated models of visionary art the world spirit has yet devised, the artists who crafted these numinous contemplative portals—even geniuses like Andrei Rublev—were deeply ensconced within formal restrictions concerning color, iconography, and technique.
Today’s visionary artist has been released from the strictures of tradition, and must discover her own peculiar perspective on the mundus imaginalis, often drawing inspiration and insight—and frequently cliché—from the store of traditional art. In other words, rather than rely on a specific religious or metaphysical tradition to ground their visions, today’s visionary artist often looks to the cross-cultural lineage of visionary art itself. Texts like Alex Grey’s The Mission of Art and Laurence Caruana’s vital online manifesto have helped define a visionary canon through and beyond western art history. But this canon, which ties together petroglyphs, tangkas, and Salvador Dali, is more than a genealogy, because—and this is the crucial (and heretical) point—visionary art is not a purely historical form. Visionary art insists on a transpersonal, transtemporal field of resonance, an ever-present origin of spiritual connections and hidden harmonies that shape image-making outside of mundane historical time. The visionary artists invokes her own ancestors, who only demand that she discover the way anew.
In his writings, Henry Corbin is at pains to distinguish the “authentic” mundus imaginalis from the muddier waters of the personal unconscious. Corbin wants to divide true imagination from mere fantasy, or, in more modern terms, the Jungian from the Freudian dimensions of dreamspace. Similarly, some old-school proponents of visionary art want to keep the pure sacred geometries free from the sometimes cloying dreck of psychedelic cliché. But one of the most powerful and confounding aspects of modern psychedelic culture is the erasure of such clear distinctions between high and low; instead we find ourselves in a Dionysian conflation and confounding of sacred and profane, where Islamic architecture and aboriginal glyphs encounter the “low-brow” world of comic books, skateboard stickers, concert fliers, and SciFi paperback covers.
Unlike Corbin, the contemporary visionary artist is rarely grounded in solid metaphysical claims based on tradition. Instead they are feeling their way through the dimensions, and they derive authenticity, when they need to, from their own experience. The most audacious claim of visionary art lies beyond genre or technique or school; it lies in the glittering possibility that artists can capture and communicate forms of cosmic consciousness and traces of otherworldly light that have arisen in their own streams of consciousness. Looking at the swirling mythopoetic gumbos of Luke Brown or the blobular frequencies of Vibrata Chromodoris, it is amazing to consider that these works are, in some sense, documents. In this sense, the quest to capture and reflect visionary phenomena might paradoxically be considered a new naturalism. And while it can be reductive and literalistic to spend too much time arguing about whether or not specific works are directly inspired by particularly visionary experiences, it is a vital question nonetheless, because it grounds the artifact in a living process. This biographical dimension deepens the sense of the artist as a mediator, and the artwork as a transmission rather than an object.
Ultimately, the meaning or reality of the visions perceived may be less important than the organ that perceives them. Discussing Moses’ famous theophany, Corbin writes that “the Burning Bush is only a brushwood fire if it is merely perceived by the sensory organs. In order that Moses may perceive the Burning Bush and hear the Voice calling him…an organ of trans-sensory perception is needed.” In the visionary encounter, a new eye is born, a synaesthetic vector of sound and light, tuning to new frequencies, drawing patterns out of chaos and apocalyptic madness. As Delvin Solkinson and Eve Bradford wrote in a recent self-published catalog, “Visionary art is evidence of a world that does not yet fully exist; a world that we are calling into being through the very act of creating and participating in the Work.” This is where the vast inheritance of the visionary tradition fuses with the intense and restless self-overcoming of the avant-garde: the imaginal world is still virtual, still ahead.
At her most idealistic, the visionary artist insists on an integral connection between the work of transforming consciousness and the work of fashioning the artifact. For many practitioners and fans, this doubled work restores a healing and even shamanic dimension to art, although the shamanic journeys in question may, in the case Giger or Daniel Oullette, dive into the demonic. But slimy copulating aliens are not the nastiest demons that threaten contemporary visionary artists. The real threats lie with the temptations of kitsch, of complacent self-mythologizing, of the rote clichés and easy iconography of most fantasy illustration and New Age pop. Like a good guru, visionary artists should challenge and baffle as well as encourage and amaze. At the same time, the idea of the solitary artist as a modern shaman is also an old and rather tired story. What authenticates the visionary now may be the meanings that emerge though them, as they circulate through communities of perception. Today’s visionary artist is less important than the visionary culture they seed, an expanding planetary web with art as one of its many nodes.
On a rainy night in downtown Los Angles, I was invited to the studio of Amanda Sage, a Visionary artist who shows with the likes of Alex Grey and Robert Venosa. We ascend in an old elevator to a warm nook of this dilapidated high-rise where she leads me to a corner inside her studio. Beyond the other colorful paintings, Amanda pulls something out that had been tucked away. Unrolling the large linen surface, there was something quite unlike any of her other spiritual, psychedelic work. This was something frightening and exhilarating. Facing me was a woman wide-eyed and mouth open in a cry of power. While I have seen many paintings, I had never seen anything like this. The woman depicted was raising her skirt in both hands to reveal her bareness. From her vagina emits an egg descending toward a table of a corporate board. Thousands of people march forth from either side of her feet, from the left issue forth armed military; from the right, are the working people evacuating the polluted, industrialized world. The lightning of life issuing from the vagina of this great woman provides the first green of new life in this dying world.
CAB: What is the title and meaning behind this work?
AS: The painting is titled ‘ANA-SUROMAI’ which quite literally means ‘to lift the skirt’ derived from the Greek language. This painting is an outcry, an ultimatum, a visual denouncement of the system that has brought our world to a state of chaos with an ever widening gap between those that make decisions and those that are subject to those decisions. It is a wake-up call to humanity. Also known as Anasyrma or plural: Anasyrmata; women have been lifting their skirts for centuries to ward off evil and enhance fertility. This symbolic act is also found in mythologies of various cultures all over the world, and more specifically in those of ancient Egypt, Greece, Persia, Ireland, Africa, Indonesia and Japan.
It is said that the evil averting gesture of women individually or collectively exposing their genitalia has the power to shame & defeat an advancing army. The act of revealing publicly the hidden core of womanhood initiates a process of change that operates on a world scale, as well as, on an individual level.
Ana Suromai by Amanda Sage
CAB: Why did this painting require six years?
AS: It took time for me to find the right place to unveil this piece, as well as, be ready to unveil myself before the world… not to mention that I needed to be very clear about why I would lift my skirt. This painting is a rite of passage for me; it symbolizes me blatantly standing up for what I believe. I did not paint this to sell it; I painted it because I had to.
I chose to unveil this painting at the 2011 Burning Man Festival in the Nevada Desert. The theme was ‘Rites of Passage’, and I brought a scaled reproduction of the painting. It was exhibited as part of a large project called ‘Burning Time’. Burning Man was the most appropriate place I could think to show it for the first time. With an audience of over 50,000, it was bound to blast off.
CAB: Where did you first hear about the lifting of the skirt?
AS: I read about the lifting of the skirt in the book ‘The Story of V’ by Catherine Blackledge. She compiled many different stories of women lifting their skirts and I was shocked to realize I had never heard of this before. She states some point in human history, female genitalia were considered potent enough to be used as the catalyst for bringing the earth and all life back from the brink of destruction. My painting of Ana Suromai, or just Ana for short, is a prayer for this regeneration.
CAB: This is such an unusual painting and to my knowledge, the only one specifically about this subject, what would be your goal for where this painting would be shown?
AS: In December this was shown at Occupy Los Angeles. I would also like to see it projected onto massive walls in major cities. Currently, I leave postcards of the painting in random places wherever I go, and know that it is making ripples all over the world through the Internet. I would like people to use this as a symbol worldwide to represent the spirit of peaceful rebellion against the status quo.
AS: I would like to see this painting in a very prominent collection, either public or private with the rights to be exhibited in very high profile spaces and shows. I see it touring the world way beyond the thousands of miles I’ve taken it so far and most recently an image of it is being inscribed on microfilm to be sent into space as a part of a time-capsule project.
CAB: What are your hopes about how this might be used to influence our world?
AS: The purpose of this gesture is first to shock one into laughter – and often the laughter is just a brief moment before moving into a more serious inspection of what this painting is saying.
It is said in an old Greek myth, that all it takes is one moment of laughter to give life a chance to spring back into full force. The act of painting this piece was a prayer, and every time I look at it, it reminds me of where I stand and what I believe in. It will take an army of us standing up together to change the course of modern civilization that seems to be hurdling full speed toward its own demise. I hope this painting will inspire people to speak up, to stand up, and to know they do not need any other weapon to make a difference in the world than to have no fear and believe in themselves.
CAB: Do you have plans to paint more paintings about revolution?
Yes, I feel I have been doing this for a while. Although, the revolution I have been painting has been much more in an energetic realm and much ‘easier’ to look at, as they are aimed at direct harmonization of the viewer. This painting is much more confronting and uncomfortable for some. I think most people are incredibly desensitized and need a degree of un-comfort to have a chance at waking up. I would like to believe that a painting could be enough, although I do know that it is only a small part of all of us doing our part in fueling the revolution. I do feel that paintings such as ‘Ana-Suromai’ have an ability to reach so many more people because of how literal it is, and I do look forward to painting more work along this line.
CAB: How do you see art as useful or necessary?
AS: Art is a signpost toward greater knowledge. It fills a gap in our longing to know where we come from and why we are here. It allows us to play with the answers and participate with the ultimate and infinite selection of choice and expression. It is a translator between the dream state and the waking state. Art is an essential part of being human. The soul of the people speaks through the artists, and the artists reflect and give hope to the people. We are at a crossroads in history in this auspicious year of 2012. People all over the world are yearning for change. I believe that we all need to step up and take the reins of our own vessel. That we realize that it is up to us to wake up. The more we find ourselves in a creative space, the more we feed the ripple of consciousness that is inevitable and growing.
CAB: What is next for Amanda Sage?
AS: Currently I am working toward a solo show at the ‘Knew Conscious Gallery’ in Denver, Colorado that opens on Feb. 11th, 2012. I will also be teaching as a part of ‘The Expanded Visions in the Mischtechnik Seminar’ with A. Andrew Gonzalez, Maura Holden and Laurence Caruana in Italy this July for the third year. As well as participating in various festivals worldwide as a live painter and speaker, I am also exhibiting in group shows in Germany, Japan, Australia, England & the US this year.
Between and within all this I plan to keep painting, writing, talking, and dreaming of a movement growing and flowering all over the world that is focused on bringing creative solutions to stagnant waters. I believe that we are all preparing for the next level of action and participation in our communities as well as our global culture. I see a train of inspiration sowing seeds of life and giving permission to have hope and open our hearts. I see the caterpillar turning into the butterfly:-)…
Thanks for talking with us Jim. To get the ball rolling, when did you begin playing with images and what power do you think images hold?
In 1967 I had taken a hiatus from college and was driving a long distance moving van. When I unloaded a shipment in San Jose, I parked my rig and took a bus into San Francisco. Having heard of Haight-Ashbury, I took a cab there and quickly saw posters for musical concerts. The imagery in best of these had an archetypal quality and were like an alarm clock for me, waking me up from a state of relative unconsciousness. I bought some of these then, and also on a later trip that summer. I returned to college in September and began trying to design my own posters. So I would say it was then that I first started playing with images and first realized their power. And in regard to your question, somehow archetypal images speak to a deeper part of us, the more beautiful and idealistic part of us. In some way they awaken this within us.
Journey to the Heart by Jim Harter
Wow, so this was really the height of the 1960s psychedelic revolution. What connection does your image making have with the other breakthroughs of those times, such as psychedelic rock and the explosion of awareness in psychedelic substances?
While I was familiar with the pre-psychedelic rock that was popular in 1966-7, my initiation into the psychedelic culture that day in San Francisco included attending a concert that featured Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Big Brother & the Holding Company. This was my first exposure to extended rock pieces and light shows that were mesmerizing and trance inducing. I had what they call a “contact high” that night. It was truly what Richard Tarnas might call a Promethean and Dionysian experience. I first experimented with marijuana and LSD the following year and this awakened me to the potential of entheogens for stimulating one’s own inner imagery. A mescaline experience in 1971 took me to what some call “I AM” consciousness. From then on my art became more mystical.
Lovers Dream Journey by Jim Harter
The deep heart and clarity in the work is very strong. Have you had any prophetic experiences with your work, or experiences whereby personal meanings or events symbolised in the work actually manifest later on?
Only one instance immediately comes to mind. In 1984, while living in New York, I arranged to learn the mische technique from Carlos Madrid. I did a sketch for my first painting “Lovers Dream Journey.” At this time I had just learned of Jungian picture analysis and took a Saturday workshop from a Jungian analyst. I took along the sketch to show him. While he thought the image had beauty, he also found it disturbing for two reasons. In this picture the movement is going towards the left, which the Jungians consider a movement from consciousness towards unconsciousness. Secondly the flying image of merged couples with eagle heads and foetus was ungrounded. I wonder if all flying images are seen this way. As this sketch was on tracing paper, I switched sides to see how it would look with the movement to the right, but didn’t like it. Thus I painted it as I originally sketched it. About a year after I made the sketch, my girl friend became pregnant. We were not in a good financial situation so I persuaded her to get an abortion, something I have never been very proud of. We soon broke up and I have largely lived a solitary life since. I have always wondered if the outcome would have been different had I painted the picture differently.
Mythic Sea by Jim Harter
How do things manifest for you with the art? Are they primarily based on dream, vision, intentional engineering of composition or spontaneous surprises? What do you feel facilitates your own creativity?
First of all, to facilitate one’s creativity, the most important thing is to have an expanded mind. Not just from drug experiences, but from a deep exposure to the world of art, and an ever growing acquaintance with metaphysical ideas. The goal for any visionary artist should be to access what is deep and timeless within him/herself. If we do this then that vision that emerges will express itself through our individual uniqueness. We all begin slowly. Besides experimenting with drugs, I also read all kinds of books that were very stimulating in helping me awaken to a much greater set of realities. I read Gurdjieff, Ouspensky, Carlos Castaneda, Hermann Hesse, channeled material from Jane Roberts and others, Robert Graves, Carl Jung, James Hillman, Yogananda, Daniel Andreev, and more recently Richard Tarnas. I made friends with a few psychics and learned something of the way they see things. Over the years I also connected with spiritual teachers and did spiritual workshops. This opened me up inwardly and provided me with many frames of reference.
When I first started doing art, I learned that marijuana was useful for stimulating surreal visual imagery in one’s mind. This was my first exposure to the power of the human psyche. I would jot down quick sketches of images that seemed to have substance. However once the drug effects wore off, these sketches didn’t always hold up. I began working in the collage medium in 1972. Working this way offered a different way of accessing the psyche, providing a multiple choice way of combining images, and freed me from the necessity of using drugs. I would combine different images in various ways in an attempt to find something that “worked.” Over time I gained a deeper understanding of symbols and became familiar with those that had real meaning and authenticity for me.
The Witness by Jim Harter
The combination of symbols expresses ideas. They help to define each other and make a larger statement. They offer the potential of creating an art laden with rich and substantive meaning. However this potential is contingent on the progress that one makes in their own spiritual development. I think in this respect I am still a novice. But my cut and paste collage creations were not quick juxtapositions of incongruous imagery, but rather painstaking efforts that sought a real poetic magic, something that mirrored my own soul.
I would say it is the same for my paintings. Some of these were inspired by collages. Others with the intent of expressing some metaphysical idea, where the vision slowly materialized as the painting progressed. More recently I have begun paintings by creating interesting textures, and then seeing what images these might conjure. I don’t recall that dreams have ever inspired any of my art creations, nor has intentional engineering ever worked..
Jim Harter’s Artist Statement
My entry into the world of art came in 1967 via an exposure to San Francisco’s psychedelic poster art. This led me to take part in the Austin poster scene from 1969-72. Experimentation with psychedelics awakened me to the immense power of the human psyche in its ability to generate fantastic visual imagery, as it were, on an internal movie screen. From this I gained a better understanding of the fuel that was generating both the psychedelic art movement, and in Europe, the movement known today as Fantastic Realism. I also learned that a few of these artists had the gift of accessing higher creative states without drugs.
I soon found a way to access my own creative inspiration. The connection came to me while experimenting with collage and this has provided a lifelong interest. An early inspiration was the book Cosmic Bicycle by San Francisco collage artist Wilfried Satty. Satty used black and white Victorian era engravings as source material in a way that created an effect both mysterious and timeless. In that sense he broke from his collage predecessor Max Ernst, who seemed primarily interested in creating shocking, or merely strange surreal images. Satty’s art evoked something I was familiar with from drug experiences, and I wanted to infuse this into my own creations.
Working in the medium of collage has offered multiple choices. I would combine different images in various ways in an attempt to find something that “worked.” This allowed me to become familiar with those symbols that had real meaning and authenticity for me. So my cut and paste collage creations were not quick juxtapositions of incongruous imagery, but rather painstaking efforts that sought a real poetic magic, something that mirrored my own soul.
The combination of images expresses ideas. Modern depth psychology has suggested, however, that symbols are not fixed, but rather have multiple meanings and are open to various interpretations. The Dutch visionary painter Johfra has suggested that symbolic art “is like a mirror that, while remaining itself, constantly displays different images, depending on the person who looks in it.” Symbols combined together help to define each other and make a larger statement. They offer the potential of creating an art laden with rich and substantive meaning, capable of communicating very profound ideas.
All through the 1970s and later, I familiarized myself with the history of art as it involved the mythic, symbolic, and surreal. This was not only a search for inspiration, but also a study of how other artists expressed ideas and worked with symbols. Among my favorite artists are the Symbolists Gustave Moreau and Jean Delville; Surrealists Remedios Varo, Rene Magritte, and Salvador Dali; and Fantastic Realist/Visionary painters Johfra, Ernst Fuchs, Alex Grey, and Ingo Swann. Concurrent with this effort was a study of philosophy, both Eastern and Western.
In the 1980s I became interested in painting. By then I had learned the limitations of my style of collage. I wanted to take my expression into colors and explore imagery for which I had inadequate source material. In 1981 I spent time in France with Dr. Jean Letschert, a Belgian artist and former student of Rene Magritte. He had gained a reputation in India as a respected yogi, and in his art blended a surreal style with mythic symbolism influenced by a deep understanding of Eastern and Western philosophical ideas and the depth psychology of Carl Jung. I also met members of a Dutch group of Fantastic Realist/Visionary artists known as the Metarealists. On my return to New York I met former students of Ernst Fuchs, a founding member of the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism. From one, Carlos Madrid, I learned the old master technique as taught by Fuchs.
My paintings have explored some of the same symbolic themes I began and continue to do as a collage artist. In the past two years I have learned to digitally colorize these collages, so I have been reworking some of the best. My color choices in this series often reflect my early love of psychedelic art. Generally speaking, my images are an attempt to tap into an archetypal reality, one that to my mind seems both timeless and deeply human. Thus I feel less like I am part of some modern trend but rather I am one following a well-trodden and ancient path, a path known not only to artists, but poets and others who have tried to express what is ultimately mysterious and ineffable. My mentor, Dr. Jean Letschert, coined a phrase for it, he called it being “a monk in the order of the marvelous.”
My process begins with sketching from my head and from imagery files that I’ve collected over the years…this particular piece is about the French Revolution, and I wanted to paint a picture that conveys the beauty and decadence of the aristocracy, with dark undertones to suggest the oncoming violence and massacre. There are a number of references and metaphors in this piece, the largest being that of sleep- the aristocracy is lulled to sleep with music, beauty, riches, confections, wines, etc… the sleep-inducing food and drink in Alice in Wonderland, characters in Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the poppy fields in the Wizard of Oz are all referenced here.
Sleeping Sickness drawing
I also wanted some slight dramatic tension- will the main figure wake up? Or is she turning in her sleep, before being beheaded like the rest of the figures in the piece?
The faces of the faerie onlookers are hidden, like that of the executioner, making them a bit more sinister and nightmarish. I also included figures from the 18th century like Mozart, the Chevalier de Saint-George, and the chemist Antoine Lavoisier- here his wife/work partner Marie holds his decapitated head.
After drawing out the composition and putting in all the narrative details, I hired a model. Because of time and resource constraints, we couldn’t get the costume I needed, but I made sure she was wearing a corset, since that would affect her pose the most.
Sleeping Sickness model shoot
I used film costume reference and photos of actual period garments for the wig and final gown in my painting.
Sleeping Sickness pastel sketches
Once I got the pose that I wanted to use, I made 7 studies of the face in various media (graphite, pastel, and acrylic) before working on the face on the painting itself- I wanted to get her likeness and the
detailed lighting just right!
Sleeping Sickness dead colouring
The final painting took 3 weeks of nonstop work, as I was on a deadline. As you can see from the photos, it’s just gessoed wood panel and acrylics. I use a sort of carbon paper to transfer my line drawing to the panel.
A master of 21st century sacred art, Oleg Korolev generously shares and discusses his latest work, ‘Michael’ with Lila. The discussion makes reference to positive and negative theology, therefore, links have been embedded to wikipedia to explain more esoteric terms, and the reader is recommended to read something on negative theology beforehand to grasp a meaning of the terms.
Once we pronounce the name “Michael”, which means “Who is like God?”, we ask the challenging question, which directly relates to the problem of evil.
A goodness, and an evil, are two concepts from Positive theology and philosophy. Sometimes we think that this is only the way of thought, which can exist…
A “Positive theology” without a “Negative theology” very often creates idols ( and the idolatry it is a reasons of all wars). Via the narrowing of our perception to the everlasting circle of the dualistic conflict, we establish a basis of war. This same process is evident also in philosophy, ideology and politics. A man believes in his conceptions as ‘real things’, idolizes them via an absolutization, and then associates himself with the own mentally constructed “absolute values” and the association becomes a total aberration of a consciousness.
This is a state of an everlasting non-freedom (even if a man fought for ‘good side”, for “good guys” or even “for God”, which he has only imagined)… In this total aberration, a person cannot see that confrontation and war is only in his own human mind and nowhere else.
St. Dionysus the Areopagite’s Negative ( Apophatic ) theology gives a way to the liberation from the idols, born by the ordinary misinterpretation of Cataphatics. Knowing it, it is possible to realize how do I consider the angelic order…
It is good to imagine Angels as the rays of the Sun of Mind, – God. The Sun is shining to us and destroys the darkness in us and around of us, but at the same time we should not forget that God Himself it is an Absolute, beyond all the conventional borders, base of our own consciousness!
1 Corinthians 13 12 “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood.”
When one sees that the “dimly” conventional borders between man and God is an illusion, which because of the realizing disappears, then we get an answer to the question : Who is like God?
Augustino Arrivabene (born Rivolta d’Adda, Italy, June 11, 1967) is a visionary painter who expresses a radical reworking of mythologies with “iconography moving between desire and hallucination, between sensuosity and intellectual poison”
Sogno by Agostino Arrivabene
Arrivabene paints with jewel-like accuracy and abundance of details, betraying a profound study of classical techniques, rare and more precious in an era of mass-manufacture, and a contemporary art scene that confuses dangerously the espressive with the lazy lack of technical craft and talentlessness.
Nuotatore by Agostino Arrivabene
After graduating in 1991 at the Brera Art Academy in 1991, he focused on painting, drawing and etching, Arrivabene was drawn to learn from the wellsprings of spiritual and technical knowledge found in the classical Masters such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Dürer and van Eyck, making master study drawings and paintings from their works in Europe’s museums. This research involved a study in almost-forgotten painting techniques (such as egg tempera and oil glaze, mischtechnik), and to prepare paint according to traditional methods (lapis lazuli, cinnabar, pure indigo, madder, bistre, dragon’s blood, etc).
The references to the history of the art in the works of Arrivabene are multiple, with Leonardo Da Vinci to the esoteric symbolism of Jean Delville composing a continuous lineage, of which Arrivabene can be considered an heir. In an art scene obsessed with the mislead concept of ‘novelty’, a break with the past, which is simply a founding myth of modernism, Arrivabene has sometimes been accused of lifting directly from old masters and some contemporary painters who also honour the past (Alberto Agazzani writes: “The Rembrandt ostentatious in key nerdruniana [...] [...] on the edge of plagiarism”). But all art stands on the shoulder of giants. There should be no objection to art that pays homage and learns from masters of the craft.
Capro-nero by Agostino Arrivabene
In speaking of this subject, Arrivabene informs to “…think of the young Raphael and his master Perugino, (it) is difficult to distinguish the phase of the master Perugino Urbino by Perugino’s own hand. Leonardo Da Vinci in Verrocchio’s workshop is very similar to the young Botticelli and Lorenzo di Credi, who emulate the same Verrocchio. So it is normal for an artist to go looking for symbolic guides, technical or poetic in its immediate past or artistic figures of his time, and then going in more independent and personal.”
The painting of Arrivabene are steeped in the archetypal wisdoms and depths found in classical and ancient mythology. Painting is a precision instrument in order to explore that which is generally not cognizable through the methods of science and rationality. Through imaginative narrations they carry light in the deeper layers of the conscience, into mysterious zones of the mind in which the archetypal symbolic images reside.
Self-portrait with bacterial cloud. Agostino Arrivabene
Self-portrait with bacterial cloud - detail
In his paintings the references to the water are multiple, an element symbolically linked to the unconscious psyche. His figures often seem to be immersed in a mysterious rich sea of corals and bacterial colonies, in which the bodies relinquish their customary material consistency in order to melt in evanescence and continuous metamorphosis into animals and vegetables.
Copia di rea et ade majestatis copia.
A superficial view of his works can place such production in the surrealist vien, or the fashion of the POP surrealism of California. But a more careful appraisal of the productions of Arrivabene reveals an intellectual structure from traditional esoterisim and classic mythology, which differentiates it from the uncontrolled liberation of the unconscious in Surrealism, or the deconstruction and re-amalgam of mass-consumer culture seen in Pop surrealism.
Le visioni de St Sebastiano
Le visioni de St Sebastiano detail
An art, that of Arrivabene, alienates itself from the contemporary world in order to undertake the pilgrimage into the mystery. “I prefer to plumb my roots, my original genetic code… Mine is a search of archetypal values, of answers to the questions of life, a way to redeem what is now decidedly superficial.”
“Heaven and Hell” is an attempt to provide a map for our journey on earth as the human race and as individuals. This painting is based on different belief systems and tries to come up with a synopsis of these, translated to our modern times. It shows the evolutionary paths of consciousness from the animal world to the sense of an ego up to a buddha-like state of mind. You can see two figures in the painting which are mirrored around the Ego. These two figures are the same Being shown in different evolutionary steps or mindstates. The Being embraces the full spectrum of its reality which goes from animalistic instinct up to the highest form of human consciousness.
In the left corner of the painting you can find a little model of the arrangement of the different qualities and how there are connected within the universal manifestation. On the physical plane we have 5 “Orbs” representing the main evolutionary steps of consciousness. They are encircled by Spirit or immaterial energies from which consciousness “emerges” into the material realm. This is represented by the first orb and can be seen as the materialization of spirit. In the second orb consciousness gets aware of its surrounding (The Senses). The third orb represents the Ego and Logic, consciousness gets aware of itself (and gets high on it!). The fourth represents the harmony of the preceded two. The “6th Sense” awakes and takes control over the ego. Inner and outer worlds of the individual come to peace. The fifth orb is the unison of the enlightened being with the substance it came from. Death eternal.
The five orbs are connected by 8 words which are qualities of the universe which are refined for each evolutionary step of consciousness. (The Tree of Life from the Kabbalah was a big reference here – check it out if you are interested!) Instinct and Desire form the “Senses Orb”, Instinct turns to Intellect, Desire to Emotion and bring forth the Ego. The Human Empire is born! The horizontal heart frequence running through the ego represents the illusion time and the certainties of birth and death. It illustrates the never ending cirle of birth and death if one doesnt take the VERTICAL axis of the game.
There are four enemies of consciousness’ path back to its source: 1.Fear 2.Clarity 3.Power 4.Old Age. (If you want to know why that is I strongly recommend reading all Castaneda books:-)!)
EXIT TO ENTER…….no we don’t want that! It’s a sad fact that our civilization is mainly based on the never ending hunt for material things. Greed is the most evil of all sins.
Above the third orb, the Ego, is the Abyss. An imaginary line which has to be crossed on the path beyond the sole reign of the Ego. Above this line Transpersonality starts to take form. Because we are constantly held down by the evil machinery I symbolised that line as a “POLICE LINE DO NOT CROSS”. It turns into “THE LINE TO CROSS” as you can see (they can’t get you if you get yourself first!).
A closeup of the four(3) enemies. Intellect turns to Discipline and becomes Stability. It is the thoughtless integration of knowledge and intuition.
Emotion turns to Mercy and becomes Wisdom. The 3 bubbles at the right are states of the mind which tremendously help staying focused on the path: being 1. Wide Awake 2. Silent Within 3. In deep Respect.
The upper figure represents a human being at play with his surrounding. The 7 holy virtues guide his action, the past and the future expand to the present of the presence of all that is. He is still using his Ego as a tool but it is not his master anymore. Feeling, Trust and Intuition are the driving forces behind his actions. Transpersonality and then, the Buddha Nature, are reached.
Autumn Skye Morrison has become renowned for creating paintings of great power and elemental richness. Spending her youth between the majesty of the mountains and the serenity of the ocean and lush forest, Autumn Skye developed a deep appreciation for natural beauty, and a sense of wonder at life and the world around her.
Autumn lives and paints in her home North of Powell River, overlooking a sweeping expanse of ocean, islands, mountains, and sky. She considers herself among the blessed of the blessed, and lives in gratitude and joy of being able to share her art and inspiration.
In this exclusive interview with Autumn Skye Morrison, we hear in depth about the spiritual process of staying present and bearing witness to the spiritual energies and elements at play within the creation of Art. “I aim to share honesty and awakening. To celebrate this fantastic adventure. To inspire and be inspired.”
Beloved by Autumn Skye Morrison
Daniel Mirante Your work is full of the themes of interconnectedness with a sentient and intelligent natural world, where ecosystems and animals are seen in their mysterious and magical light. What major gateways and initiations have lead you into contemplation of these mysteries?
Painting is in itself a celebration and exploration into the mystery and magic of life and creation. As I paint, the imagery evolves and takes me on a journey. I begin each piece with a seed of an idea, and by watching and listening the piece comes into being. While painting, animals, plants and other elements come to me.
The Seer by Autumn Skye Morrison
Daniel Mirante Has your creativity been unbroken since a child or did you rediscover it at some point ? Are there any passages in your life which have particularly inspired and unfolded your craft as an artist?
“While painting, animals, plants and other elements come to me.”
I was blessed with total support of my creative exploration while growing up. There was never a doubt of what I would do with my life, and even before I knew the concept of “Artist” I knew who I was and what I was here to do.
I have not completed an academic training, but I have been painting since I was old enough to hold a brush. Drawing before I could walk or talk. I believe paint runs in my veins, and every color and texture I lay my sight on is translated by my imagination into ideas for new paintings. I am a “young” artist, at 27 years old, but I feel an ancient calling stir every time I open my eyes in the morning. I have known no more humbling and empowering teacher than art.
Queen-Be by Autumn Skye Morrison
Daniel Mirante Do you develop the idea of what you are painting and render it, or do the themes and symbols reveal themselves through exploration with the act of painting itself ?
As I mentioned in response to your first question, I usually begin each piece with only a loose idea, a seed of a concept, or a few fragmented elements. With such an open starting point, the possibilities are boundless of where the piece will take me. Sometimes it is a little clearer when I begin, and there are only slight surprises as it develops, other times I think I have it “figured out” and suddenly it will shift and flow in a totally different direction, and sometimes i just begin by getting splashy with colours and energetic brushstrokes and the imagery gradually comes clear.
“As a painting develops and evolves, often new animals, objects, figures, or symbols come to mind intuitively.”
As a painting develops and evolves, often new animals, objects, figures, or symbols come to mind intuitively. I trust this as guidance and most often they will fit perfectly into the composition and concept of the piece. That being said, I also do not cling to what is already on the canvas, and often will spend many hours working on something, only to then suddenly paint over it or change it into something else. Only when I am able to step back from the painting after it is complete, am I able to witness it from a fresh perspective, and see that everything is in it’s perfect place and it all “makes sense”. The piece tells a story, far beyond what I consciously imagined it ever would.
Each painting truly is a journey, and it never ceases to amaze and delight me.
The Grace Of Mer by Autumn Skye Morrison
Autumn Skye Morrison
Daniel Mirante What do you envision or hope for in terms of the future of visionary and sacred art within America, Canada, and the world?
I feel a deep stirring, a potent blossoming of creativity. It is all around us, more and more, in our own lives, in those of our family and community, and the collective experience. I trust in this blessed journey.
It is our divine duty and our spiritual responsibility to create and to share inspiration, especially at this time of change. As we honor our personal creative paths, we contribute vitally to the whole through our own well-being, by inspiring those around us and encouraging them to create as well, and by manifesting visual mirrors to the light, potential, and divinity of each viewer.
As in any form of art; dance, painting, music, healing, cooking, gardening, etc; as we release judgment, move past our mind, breathe deep into the process, and find bliss in each step; we realize that we are boundlessly assisted in our expression. We are able to see that the art is not born of us, but through us, and in this knowing we are humbled yet profoundly empowered.
In regards to the specific “movement” of “Visionary Art”, I feel that all of this is honored and tapped into to a huge extent. Each artist’s tool or vehicle may be different in how we find that flow of spiritual inspiration; through meditation, dance, shamanic journeys, etc; but the language of light is what we have in common. Each creation is an offering: a positive reflection of ourselves and humanity, a celebration of evolving consciousness, an opportunity for healing and deepening, a vision of a bright future and Now.
Among those glorious men, as states The Oxford Dictionary of Art, were the Neo-Humanists in art, or Neo-Romantics which included Eugene Berman and Pavel Tchelitchew.
The term Neo-Romanticism has also been applied to certain painters working in France in the 1930s, notably Berman and Tchelitchew, who typically painted dreamlike imaginary landscapes with rather mournful figures. Their work influenced the British Neo-Romantics.
As writes the Art Encyclopedia: “These’Neo-Romantics’ or ‘Neo-Humanists’ included Eugene Berman and Pavel Tchelitchew; at this point their eclectic, self-consciously traditional art offered an important alternative to modernism.”
Eugene Berman. Siren in a Landscape. Oil on canvas. 1941
The Oxford Dictionary of Art also adds: “Neo-Romanticism. A movement in British painting and other arts c.1935-55, in which a number of loosely affiliated artists looked back to certain aspects of 19th century Romanticism, particularly the visionary landscape tradition of William Blake and Samuel Palmer, and reinterpreted them in a more modern idiom. The term was coined by the critic Raymond Mortimer in 1942. Painters and graphic artists representative of the movement include John Minton, John Piper, and Graham Sutherland, who all worked in a landscape tradition…”.
But, the Tate Gallery site states that all started in early 1920s!
“In the early 1920s in Paris, a group of figurative painters emerged, whose brooding and often nostalgic work quickly became labelled Neo-Romantic. Chief among them were the Russian-born trio of Eugene Berman and his brother Leonid, and Pavel Tchelitchew.”
“The term applied to the imaginative and often quite abstract landscape-based painting of Paul Nash, Graham Sutherland and others in the late 1930s and 1940s. Their work often included figures, was generally sombre, reflecting the Second World War, with its approach and its aftermath, but rich, poetic and capable of a visionary intensity. It was partly inspired by the visionary landscapes of Samuel Palmer and the Ancients, partly by a more general emotional response to the British landscape and its history. Other major Neo-Romantics were Michael Ayrton, John Craxton, Ivon Hitchens, John Minton, John Piper, Keith Vaughan. The term sometimes embraces Robert Colquhoun and Robert MacBryde, and the early work of Lucian Freud. Also the graphic work of Henry Moore of the period, especially his drawings of war-time air-raid shelters.”
Pavel Tchelitchew. The Golden Leaf. Paper, gouache, 63,5 x 49,5 cm. 1943.
So, The Oxford Dictionary of Art enrolls them to the adepts of the art movement “Neo-Romanticism”, as though they worked in 1930s, but the Tate Gallery specialists, who of course know which works and of what period are exhibited in their gallery, name them “Neo-Romantics” of “the early 1920s.”
The point is: “the early 1920s” was a very important time on the world art scene. It was the moment of truth, which defined all the potential world art development!
The “non-transcendent”, “new art” of Modernism, the art of “dehumanization”: Avant-garde, Rayonism, Suprematism, Abstractionism, Neo-Plasticism, partially Dadaism, and Cubism gained momentum, and even José Ortega y Gasset himself wrote his Dehumanization in Art in the same years.
In 1924, the French poet Andre Breton published the Manifesto of Surrealism, which has become a big and quite complex art movement around the world, with its roots in the art of Giorgio de Chirico, influenced by Cubism and Dada, mixed up with the psychoanalysis of Sigmund Freud.
Even though the art style of Eugene Berman and Pavel Tchelitchew called “Neo-Romantics” or “Neo-Humanists”, it has a certain difference from the British “Neo-Romanticism” of the 19th century, also somewhat influenced by Surrealism, and it could be described as a sort of Neo-Romantic Surrealism or maybe as a pre-Visionary art style.
Today, one of the most famous American Visionary artists, Alex Grey says: “The Russian painter Pavel Tchelitchew was one of the great visionary artists of the 20th century (his obsession with anatomy and mysticism relates also to my own work). Tchelitchew’s paintings evolved through metamorphic symbolism to x-ray anatomical figures glowing with inner light, and eventually progressed to luminous, abstract networks.”
Well, since then Surrealism, as an extensive art movement was somewhat mixed, but still non-homogeneous, has finally separated after the Second World War, in the 1950s.
It is necessary to mention that the separation line was exactly within of the frames of the definitions of the philosophical work Dehumanization in Art, such as: “non-transcendence”, a “dehumanization”, a “striving to understand art as a game, no more”, an “avoiding of the natural forms depiction” and a “deep irony”, proclaimed by José Ortega y Gasset in the year 1925.
It is necessary to mention that the separation line was exactly within of the frames of the definitions of the philosophical work Dehumanization in Art, such as: “non-transcendence”, a “dehumanization”, a “striving to understand art as a game, no more”, an “avoiding of the natural forms depiction” and a “deep irony”, proclaimed by José Ortega y Gasset in the year 1925.
So, the 1920s played a significant role in the new self-realizing of the artists, which faced a fundamental and epoch-making choice between the ways in the global Art. The point is that in the following decades, on the one hand, we have a complete Art tradition which kept a transcendental depth and a belief in human potential in the personal spiritual evolution development and which has become rather an integral Metaphysical Neo-Humanism; and on the other hand, a product of the mechanical, closed to the cognition of the Divine, secularized and Nihilist mental work of a new “art discourse” and “dehumanization” in Art, as well as just “Ready-made”. It is necessary to say that the Surrealist movement has divided itself exactly by this sign. For example Chirico and late Dalí belonged to the camp of the Neo-Humanists, but such persons like Breton and Duchamp were on the opposite side.
A “pre-Surrealist” or “Magic Realist” Giorgio de Chirico in general had a very special position. In 1919 he published an article The Return of Craftsmanship, where he vindicated the rights of the traditional Art. By the way, it is possible to notice certain parallels with the late attempts of Salvador Dalí to save art and the whole art salvation message of the “Golden Triangle” (Salvador Dalí, Arno Breker and Ernst Fuchs) in 1970s.
In 1920s, Giorgio de Chirico has also become a founder of the Magic Realism art movement. Among of the members also were: Alberto Savinio, Adolf Ziegler and Alexander Kanoldt. Magic Realism, mutually influenced by Surrealism, represented one of the forces in the trend of the “return to order”, which took place in 1920s after the disaster of the First World War in Europe. The style name comes from a title of book: After Expressionism: Magic Realism, written by a German art historian and critic Franz Roh in 1925.
Giorgio de Chirico. Ariadne. Oil and graphite on canvas 135.6 x 180.3 cm. 1913
The First World War, it seems, has played a significant role in the catalyzation of the objective social consciousness processes and in the art, which just reflected them. It affected the society worldwide, separating it between those who, after the catastrophe of the First World War and the mass suffering of people were totally disappointed in the humanity, its ideals, values and its rationality itself, and on the other hand those who still believed in the humanity. Even in the work by Ortega y Gasset we can find certain notes of such a cynicism in relation to the humanity.
As someone said: “a cynic its just a disappointed romantic”. Old Humanists and Romantics became the past, and we now got the Neo-Humanists and Neo-Romantics, as well as their opposites, who already didn’t believe in humanity.
But, I guess the point was not in the believing, but in the level of personal evolution itself. I mean, those who are evolutionarily advanced, whose stage is higher, had a personal connection with the Transcendent, so the” believing” in humanity was just a knowledge of the fact that man is something bigger and higher than just some “social element”. Others, who had no such an empirical knowledge, could not see that at all. So, their art reflected certain mechanical, behaviorist reality, which seemed to them to be more honest than some “fantasy” or the “utopia” of those romantics.
Austin Osman Spare. Drawing. Self portrait with natives and reptiles.
Since then, the world is separated between the really “chosen”, spiritual men who will “save the town”, and on the other hand the cynical aberrant essences, those “mules, without understanding” of the spiritual, and non-connected to the Transcendence, which created the same sort of art. So, to the words of Franz Roh: After Expressionism (of the war time)–Magic Realism, we could add, on the one hand, but art of the “mules”–Modernism, on the other hand!
Returning to the “Magic Realism”, we must mention a prominent master of mystical art, who also could be considered a master, who worked in this style: the English artist Austin Osman Spare. He was one of the most radical empirics, and used a technique of the “automatic drawing” and “automatic writing”. Also he had a method of “sigilization” a graphical recording of certain sacred symbols, (for example runes) which could appear in the sphere of his perception, when he had been in some ecstatic condition.
Nicholas Kalmakoff. The Women of Nadjis. 1911
Also we must talk about Nicholas Kalmakoff, also a Russian immigrant, as Tchelitchew and Berman, whose art work activity took place at the very beginning of 20th century. His works appeared at art exhibitions already in 1900. In spite that many characteristics of his art correspond to the Magic Realism of 1920s, Nicholas Kalmakoff usually has been considered a representative of a Symbolism of the “Silver Age”. His style had a sort of the Art Nouveau influence in the external approach, and mystical or a fantastic filling inside. Kalmakoff’s art style had also certain parallel features with the style of the Fantastic Realist Ernst Fuchs, whose art also continues the traditions of the bright heritage of the Art Nouveau or Wiener Sezession and Jugendstil. The art of Ernst Fuchs also contains a mystical message, though in some cases it has been interpreted Surrealistically, and includes certain Hyper-Realistic elements.
We should not forget Johannes Franciscus Gijsbertus van den Berg or just Johfra, the Dutch artist, whose active art work period started in 1940s, who has become one of the most known artists of the style in the post-war period. His art also had bright features of Magic Realism, though he described it as “Surrealism based on studies of psychology, religion, the Bible, astrology, antiquity, magic, witchcraft, mythology and occultism.” Johfra, together with Victor Linford, co-founded a “Meta-Realist” group, and in addition to these two, in the group participated: Frans Erkelens, Ellen Lórien, Johan Hermsen, Diana Vandenberg and Han Koning.
Johfra. Ontbolstering. Oil on a Panel, 120 x 90 cm. 1973
So, together with the Magic Realism, the Neo-Romanticism of the “Neo-Humanists” there has appeared not only as a formal alternative movement to the whole Modernism, with the idea to save the traditional forms of art, but has become a manifestation of a nostalgic love to them human in art, as well as a belief and hope for the development of humanity in the never-ending evolutionary potentiality. To these styles, which had the neo-humanist and transcendentalists ideas, we must also add Neo-Classicism or Modern Classicism.
A member of the “Golden Triangle” (Salvador Dalí, Arno Breker and Ernst Fuchs).–which as a real order of art knights, also fought for the art salvation as did before Giorgio de Chirico,–the sculptor Arno Breker brightly represented the style of Modern Classicism. We have to notice that in the framework of the style he stood somewhere separately, but his art still contained a bright Neo-Romantic attitude to an idea of a human being in art. The Modern Classicism style also included sculptors: Aristide Maillol, Louis Dejean , Alexander Matveev, Georg Kolbe, Anton Hanak, Paul Manship, Libero Andreotti, Joseph Bernard, Jan Stursa, Constantin Brancusi, Antoine Bourdelle, Gustav Vigeland, Giacomo Manzu, Venanzo Crocetti and others. But Arno Breker, as well as the other two members of the famous trio, was also a Visionary artist. His Art has the transcendental features, and he had a vision of a human potential in the spiritual evolution development, though in the inviolable striving for perfection, even up to the total absolutization.
Paul Manship. Prometheus at Rockefeller Center
Some can say that Modern Classicism, especially in sculpture, reflected certain “totalitarian regimes” values, and of course will point the finger to the Third Reich and the Soviet Union. Well, this is a well known way of thinking of the people, which perception is locked in the non-transcendent space of dialectics those “mules, without understanding”. First of all it, is necessary to say that many sculptors–representatives of the style also worked in the most democratic state in the whole world–USA. Among them were, for example, the famous American Modern Classicist Paul Manship (the creator of the “Prometheus” at Rockefeller Center), Leo Friedlander (perhaps the American analogue of Josef Thorak, who created the “Arts of War” sculptures, Arlington Memorial Bridge), Isidore Konti, Gaston Lachaise, Hermon Atkins MacNeil, Carl Milles, Solon Borglum, Charles Grafly, etc.
'Kissing' - Alex Grey
But, since the art scene was already captured by the Modernists, they had no chance for fruitful work and development. Modernists have aggressively occupied the life space on the entire Art scene. They, as representatives of the new official art of the “free world”, through the mediation of the non-governmental organizations and new art museums, received the commissions and just in general were sponsored by the US government in the period of the Second World War and the Cold War. Modernism, represented by the” Contemporary Art” movement has become a propagandistic weapon, serving as a visualized ideology by the so-called “free art”, which had to become the opposite of the style dominating in Germany, the Modern Classicism, and the Socialist Realism in the Soviet Union, both styles being considered as “non-free”. (Read books by Frances Stonor Saunders: “Who Paid the Piper?: CIA and the Cultural Cold War”, and “The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters”).
Then, very soon the American Modern Classicism style itself, as well as all the rest of the Neo-humanistic art of the United States was marginalized, and substituted by the newly emerging pop-Culture and pushed down to the cartoon and cinema industry, where it appeared in 1938 as a surrogate in the image of “Superman” (the comic book scenario was written by Jerry Siegel already in 1932, and the cartoonist Joe Shuster became the author of the image). It is amazing, but to quote the Wikipedia: “Because Siegel and Shuster were both Jewish, some religious commentators and pop-culture scholars such as Rabbi Simcha Weinstein and the British novelist Howard Jacobson suggest that Superman’s creation was partly influenced by Moses, and other Jewish elements. Superman’s Kryptonian name, “Kal-El”, resembles the Hebrew words which can be taken to mean “voice of God”. The suffix “el”, meaning “(of) God” is also found in the name of angels (e.g. Gabriel, Ariel) who are flying humanoid agents of good with superhuman powers. Jewish legends of the Golem have been cited as worthy of comparison, a Golem being a mythical being created to protect and serve the persecuted Jews of 16th century Prague, and later revived in popular culture in reference to their suffering at the hands of the Nazis in Europe during the 1930s and 1940s.”
So, all “Neo-Humanistic” art was either marginalized, or substituted by the cartoons mass-culture surrogate, which nevertheless has, in the opinion of Rabbi Simcha Weinstein and British novelist Howard Jacobson, some sacral meaning. Currently, we can see the development of the Superman-Golem in the metamorphosis of the image to: “Batman”, “Spider-Man”, “Cat-Woman”, etc. (it would be strange to see “Gabriel, Ariel” in the image, wouldn’t it?). Since then, the creature has been appearing as a never-ending commercial image of the anthropomorphic essence of Terminators, RoboCops and legions of the Transformers in the video games.
Obviously, in our epoch of Post-Modern, all which we have is these electronic mechanical creatures,–Post-Golems and totally dehumanized Post-Modenist art. The game, it seems, is over. The the human being in art is dead!?
Hardly! This is rather an end of the “dehumanized art”, which has exhausted itself and came to the suicidal self-repetition.
The “Visionary Art” is pointing to the height of the human Transcendence, which is always independent, unconditional and non-conventional. The Transcendence is the core of the human soul, which always appears on the art scene whenever a major art cycle is over.
Nevertheless, the pendulum of the social consciousness now swings to the opposite side, and around of the world, here and there we may see some live sprouts of the new, very human and very spiritual Art–a total anthropological art, which involves all the human essence itself–Visionary art! The seeds were planted by the artistic constellation made of the great names, which are partially listed above, and which, in general, can be considered as a core of the world art “Neo-Humanists” movement in art, as well as the forerunners of the “Visionary Art” style.
To summarize, we may state that a really big gathering of the allied artistic styles has become the precursor of the world Visionary art movement itself: Symbolism, Neo-Romanticism, Metaphysical Realism or Magic Realism, Surrealism, Modern Classicism and Fantastic Realism.
The “Visionary Art” is pointing to the height of the human Transcendence, which is always independent, unconditional and non-conventional. The Transcendence is the core of the human soul, which always appears on the art scene whenever a major art cycle is over.
This is also like when a the dark cloud is cleared away; a pure and bright light of a new spirituality appears, creating new religious consciousness, which as a “Visionary Art” prophet and the elder of our times is represented by Ernst Fuchs.
The Art sinusoid curve of the “conventional Art” has come to its bottom point, and this situation gives to the constant of the Art of Transcendence a chance to manifest itself again. This is the same, as if a snow and ice on the mountain would melt under the sunlight, and the rock, which always existed under it, would appear here in the unchangeable integrity.
Ernst Fuchs. 'Job and the Judgement of Paris' Crayon, pencil and gouache, 130x150cm (1965-66)
This is also like when a the dark cloud is cleared away; a pure and bright light of a new spirituality appears, creating new religious consciousness, which as a “Visionary Art” prophet and the elder of our times is represented by Ernst Fuchs. Maestro Fuchs has become a teacher of numerous artists and including myself, H.R. Giger, Roberto Venosa, De Es Schwertberger, Mati Klarwein, Zdzislaw Beksinski, Isaac Abrams, Philip Rubinov Jacobson, A. Andrew Gonzalez, Amanda Sage, Kuba Fiedorowicz, Brigid Marlin, Laurence Caruana and many others. Today, Visionary art is brightly represented by: Alex Grey, Lukas Kandl, Victor Safonkin, Dennis Potokar, Carrie Ann Baade, Laurie Lipton, Tristan Schane, David M Bowers, Otto Rapp, Jon Beinart, Erik Heyninck, Eli Tiunine, Bruno di Maio, Steven Kenny, Kris Kuksi, Maura Holden, Bernard Dumaine, Pauline Jones, Artur Golacki, Peter Gric, Martina Hoffmann, Olivier Zappelli, Olga Spiegel, Miguel Tio, Luke Brown, Satoshi Sakamoto and many, many others.
This is a very extensive subject; about the current world Visionary Art movement, its sorts of philosophy, structure and exhibition process it will be necessary to write a new series of articles, which I hope to do in the near future.
Meredith Dittmar, a 36 year old Portland artist, has become renowned for her beautiful sculpture, creating beings and beautiful luminous worlds of human-animal-plant-energy through the medium of polymer clay.
Dittmar turned from multimedia to sculpture, working as an artist and independent character designer through her company www.corporatepig.com. She creates countless thousands of unique hand-crafted characters called “My Guys”, mini-monsters and bizzare creatures, each one individually nuanced.
In her larger, more substantial artworks, her creatures live within Koch triangle fractal worlds, opened up to reveal flowing elemental currents and abstract totemic processes that suggest molecular and quantum syntaxes. Mandalic forms, hinting at both cogs and flowers, sparkle and spil forth from these gentle dissections, contemplations upon the subliminal substance of things, meditations upon the pattern that connects, as she says “…deep levels of union across themes of biology, technology, and consciousness”
In this exclusive interview, Meredith Dittmar kindly reveals something more about her artistic practice and orientation.
A Momentary Summit
Daniel Mirante: Thank-you for agreeing to this interview ! What question should I ask you?
I think the biggest question is what is the work all about. To begin, and ultimately, the act of creating is all there is. I try to not go beyond that and stay present while I sculpt. So really creating is an integral part of my spiritual practice, and the work tends to reflect where I’m at with that practice. Some of the same basic themes that emerge include an acknowledgement of the essential connectedness and living beauty of all matter. There is a lot in the work about the multifaceted evolution of it all, and the transcendence and inclusion of old worldviews and memes.
Its frequently about seeking – and finding a way to express visually those moments where there is nothing or no one to seek. Different personal stories emerge as well, depending on whats going on in my life and my degree of attachment to those stories. A common one of late has to do with truly facing death and letting go of that attachment.
Form, Formlessness and the depth of what is. #2 by Meredith Dittmar
In the history of western art, female artists have been somewhat under-represented, but in the present era there seems to be re-dressing the balance. There is a flow of novelty entering the world of art. Do you think this could be coming from the unique perceptions and insights that belong to female experience?
I’ve never really felt drawn to identifying as a female artist so it’s a difficult lens for me to look through. Really, I think great art reflects the leading edge of the greater collective unconscious of the time. Women have more influence and opportunity than ever in all fields, and that is also reflected in art.
Ultimately I think the greatest things about art are gender neutral. Currently there is a trend in art that expresses the inherent patterns that surround us, ones own transcendent experience, and visions of smaller, bigger and deeper etc. I think all of this reflects the leap in the evolution of consciousness happening right now. It is then translated, filtered and crystallized through the artists point of view – female, male or whatever.
A story of Juramidam by Meredith Dittmar
Daniel Mirante: Your work is full of symbols and themes of interconnectedness, the mysterious molecular and energetic processes underlying the visible, as well as the vibrant spaciousness in which this is all expanding and evolving. What major gateways and initiations have lead you into contemplation of these mysteries?
Well said! Oh geeze where to begin with that question… Id say my first small awakening happened in 98 on a mountain in Tahoe where I was living a simple life consumed with snowboarding. On a perfect powder day, a gentle fall forced my body to stillness, and everything slid into silence. For several minutes, I saw the world with new eyes and I observed my body laughing out loud.
Shortly after that I met my husband at a gathering in the Mojave desert. We made bold moves to be together because the universe was making it pretty clear that was what we should do. Randy had many years of spiritual interest/study under his belt and via proximity, and his subtle urging, I absorbed a lot.
Add to the mix a few like minded friends and a few key openings, and I have been on the path of seeking the truth of what I am, with varying intensity, ever since. When it comes to methods of practice I’m pretty streaky and do what feels right at the time… meditation, retreat, reading, creating, listening to audio satsangs and talks, and human and plant teachers have all been instrumental to my particular journey.
The spiritual teacher Ram Dass is the subject of Martina Hoffmann‘s latest masterly painting. It was created in harmonious and loving synergy between the artist and her subject.
Neem Karoli Baba, Ram Dass' spiritual teacher
Dr. Richard Alpert became known for his innovative conscious research with entheogens at Harvard University together with colleagues Dr. Timothy Leary and Dr. Ralph Metzner. Later, after his legendary trip to India and his encounter with his Guru, Neem Karoli Baba, he returned to the US as Ram Dass and became one of counter culture’s prime spiritual leaders.
When asked if he could sum up his life’s message Ram Dass replied, “I help people as a way to work on myself, and I work on myself to help people… To me, that’s what the emerging game is all about.”
Ram Dass was awarded the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award in August 1991
Martina shares on her experience:
“It has been an honor and special pleasure to have taken on this commission portrait and the process of creating it was nothing short of magical. The birthing of a new art piece always takes all I’ve got to offer at that moment in time. It was an amazing and wonderful experience and allowed me to connect with you, Ram Dass, on many subtle levels.”
Born and raised in L.A, Mia has long been fascinated by stories and characters, and the multi-faceted complexity that makes each person unique. Mia believes that all individuals contain an entire universe within them, which is invisible to the naked eye. Her work concentrates on giving shape to the unseen forces in her subjects – their thoughts, memories, emotions and complex histories. These qualities fit together to form a rich inner landscape of identity and mythology for her characters.
The Four Seasons by Mia
When did you start developing an interest in art and what have been the major catalysts to your flowering as an artist ?
Well, since I was a very small child I’ve had an obsession with drawing—both, my twin sister and I. Apparently, we would put toys aside for a crayon and a piece of paper. I was greatly encouraged by family, classmates, and teachers alike throughout grade school, so there was never any question in my mind that I wanted to pursue art. Reading storybooks, watching cartoons, and Disney animated films were a huge inspiration to me growing up, and I wanted desperately to become an animator when I was in high school. At around 15, I took my first formal art class— figure drawing over the summer at Art Center. It was a bit overwhelming, because I’d never been in a class where everyone was artistic. It was also terribly exciting, because it was my first time on a college campus that was entirely dedicated to art. The idea that I could study art institutionally was riveting, because I was used to the occasional craft or hobby-painting sort of art class up until that point. And of course, then there was Otis, which pretty much shaped my artistic development from the ground up.
The Four Seasons by Mia
You mention storybooks and disney cartoons. Your work does carry a strong narrative element, a compression of events and mythologies into a single instant. How do you feel the images come to you?
It’s all rather spontaneous. My ideas first come in the form of words though, which I write down sporadically, usually while I’m working on another piece. When I’m ready to begin working on the new piece, I gather my notes and start sketching from the words I have written. Sometimes I’ll get stuck and have to put it aside for another day, and other times it just flows. I keep many reference folders full of images and am constantly looking through them. Tumblr is always on my homepage so that I start the day looking at random images. I sketch random observations to be sorted through later. All of the elements and details in my pieces reflect my interests and sometimes serve to document certain phases of fascination with various subjects. For example, I had an astronomy phase some months ago, and now I’m in a bit of a sculpture phase. Those things make their way into the pieces as just another way of communicating and interpreting the story that I’m trying to tell.
How would you like to see your art unfolding in the future?
I have so much to learn…I don’t think I’ve even scraped the surface yet. As far as technical skills go, I want to soak up as much as I possibly can and eventually try other media like oils, watercolor, and even digital. I have a lot to learn about myself, so I am always trying to explore new ideas, concepts, and subjects for my fine art work. I would also like to write and illustrate my own stories someday. Much farther down the line, I’d love to blend other art forms with my work (such as animation, sculpture, or even performance), whether that means collaborating with other artists, or learning new disciplines myself. As you can see, I have many dreams, but I have the rest of my life to busy myself with, so I want to keep things fresh and interesting.
Kashima Echo is an illustrator based in Tokyo, Japan, and is a member of the International Fantastic Art Association. Kashima brings through fresh, clear, and simultaniously cute, ugly, beautiful and morbid images through, carrying resonances of the perverse illustrator Aubrey Beardsley, and the victorian fairy artist Arthur Rackham, amongst others. Kashima kindly agreed to participate in an interview about her work. Translation from Japanese by Radha Case
By Kashima Echo
Q) How do you begin a drawing?
A) First, I open my heart and my memory bank. I have many themes I would like to draw and I would be happy if I could finish drawing them during my lifetime. Depending on how I feel, the commission or the exhibition theme, I would chose one of the themes and start drawing. I tend to draw simple rough sketches, but not always. I just start drawing on the screen, and I add and subtract as I go along and complete it. My work is based foremost on ideology and philosophy. Even for a regular illustration of a girl, amongst the ambiguities there would be something I can clearly communicate why I chose ‘that’ (theme).
The other important thing is ‘curved lines’. As the world is full of spirals, I feel beauty in spirals and curved lines. The ideal balance and lines. These are important to me. Also, ‘colour’. It’s conspicuous in my gallery exhibition works, however, I personally do not like ‘aggressive colours’. I like calm, vague, cloudy, visually gentle, bright gray screens even for pastels. Even when I use dark colours, I would not use decisive primary lines. Sometimes the themes are peculiar, but it’s not that I want to hurt anyone, if permeated with kindness I can draw with a good feeling. Maybe that’s reflected in the colours.
Q) How do you know when you have caught a spirit in your lines?
A) It may be the fatigue I feel when I’ve completed the drawing. While I’m drawing I’m absorbed, am earnest, so I’m unaware of it. Though, I do always notice that ‘I must find this line the most beautiful’ as I find myself drawing the same line in different pictures as if I’ve traced it.
I myself do not have much attachment to completed drawings. I most enjoy the moment (time) I’m drawing as it absorbs me. Sometimes the completed work is good, other times it’s borderline. Either way, I secretly consider all my drawing to be ‘fragments of me’.