:: The Future Of My Work Is Not Visionary Art ::

For many years, I have described myself as a visionary artist, and have – in part at least – sought to express in my work some of the principles of Visionary Art, as outlined in various media but perhaps most prominently in Laurence Caruana’s ‘Manifesto of Visionary Art’. However, over the past few years, it has increasingly become apparent to me that this is not the optimal aim for my life as an artist, that while my work seeks to express visionary experiences, among many other things, it is those ‘many other things’ which really define my art.

This feeling intensified after a month in South Africa, where I painted murals on houses in a township in the Western Cape, but was also due to a rising sense that I actually disagree with many of the overtly theological and metaphysical aims in the Visionary Art movement. Setting out my own transcendent and twenty-first century principles about what I believe art and painting to be founded upon, in my 2016 book ‘Liminal Contact’, was also a signpost on the road to my releasing my sense of belonging within this genre.

It must also be said that my unique media has also generally not been understood by the movement either, and this along with everything else led me to the words below, announced on social media on the 21st July 2017. This text also stands as something of a new work-in-progress artistic direction, and perhaps, as an alternative Artist Statement as to what my work is all about at heart, and where it is heading in the future...

Not Visionary Art banner

I have made a small but significant change to my artistic self-image today, in that I will no longer describe myself as a visionary artist. It is time to realise that the aims of the Visionary Art movement – for which I continue to have great fondness and respect – are not the aims I seek in my art and research. The final trigger, as it were, the tiny needle which finally tipped the balance, was watching a concise and very enlightening presentation on the history and practices of visionary art at Breaking Convention 2017, seeing the wonder of it – and that wonder I realised I was seeing from a distance, not as identification – and thinking ‘Beautiful, but that’s not me...’

Straight after this, my own my presentation began, I spontaneously introduced myself as 'an artist who works with the visionary, the ethnographic, the archaeological and the cognitive'... which is a much longer description, but much more appropriate for who I am, where I am going, and what I seek. At least as an artist.

I think I have always had some kind of problem with seeing myself as part of the Visionary Art movement. In part, this simply boils down to the unique media I use, and the eschewing of mische, digital, oils, as well as the grand metaphysical esotericism of the High Civilisations of the Old World, in favour of something more... well, intuitively human, I guess. Earthy, based in blood, seeking out humanity rather than theology, evolutionary in a Darwinist sense rather than a psychedelic one.

Another aspect is that, the amazing Dreams & Divinities initiative aside, I haven’t found recognition in any of the major streams of the Visionary Art movement, whether in Vienna, Eastern Europe, Germany, France or the USA. That’s not to say I haven’t sometimes been welcomed, but reactions have tended towards polite incomprehension or subtle critiques to include images and techniques in my work that simply aren’t for me. It’s all good: I realise those responses have simply been outer reflections of my own inner discomfort with the label. I remain a great appreciator of the Visionary Art movement, its imageries and techniques. They’re just not what I seek to achieve with my own work.

So what do I seek? In all honesty, my art and my research are not ends in themselves, but merely vehicles, not to make revelations of the sacred manifest in the world, or indeed to create new artistic religions, or to become more ‘conscious’ – I feel a surfeit of consciousness already, but it’s a wild, ADHD chaos that I ride, not the calmness of the mystic or the sureness of the priest – but to reveal the truth of the human being in the most complete, holistic, truthful and scientifically accurate way that I can muster. To tear the top of my skull off, and peer at what’s inside.

To fish around a bit – to fish around a lot – and play with the parts fearlessly, from ecstasy to suicide, joy and sorrow, alienation to belonging. I don’t want gods old or new, I want to know how gods are made and why we made them in the first place. I don’t want a new religion, or a much-valued ancestral painting technique, I want to find the common fundaments to everything that is being human. I want to know why we talk, why we dance, why we paint images on rock and then in the blink of an eye send probes to land on alien moons. And I haven’t even mentioned dynamics of the Queer, which must find a deeper, more robust expression in my future work too.

To come to a new-and-old comprehension of being human in the twenty-first century. I am human. It is the most astounding thing, an experienced question which I will spend my whole life discovering. There isn’t a simple term for that, no single movement that can capture how I want to play, and as an artist I can’t achieve it using anything I haven’t invented myself from scratch and necessity. I am an artist, and I am human. Every single day of my life, this is a mind-blowing fucking joy.

I will still, of course, call some of my artworks ‘Visions’, because that’s what they are, but they are not hieratic manifestations of some hidden sacred, since to me, everything about being human is sacred, and that humanity is the creator of all sensations of the sacred: it is within, not without. It is has nothing to do with the datum universe and everything to do with who we are. My art seeks to evoke that humanity more than any sanctity or imagined metaphysical realm in which the sacred can be held objective.

Thus with this statement, I hope to have released myself from something which I have personally felt to be confining, and opened myself to new vistas of unknowing and discovery. I'm excited for the future, as I am whenever I am faced with a blank canvas, pregnant with possibilities...

Liminal Contact - And What Will I See?


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