Unio Mystica is part of Damian Michaels' Art Visionary Collection in Australia.
More information at http://www.org.nsw.gov.au/exhibitishow.htm
Catalogue of the "Fantastic and Visionary Art" tour:
Foreword to exhibition tour catalogue by Alan Sisley:
Regional Gallery is delighted to be able to present the exhibition Fantastic
and Visionary Art for tour.
exhibition contains work from sixty different artists, from seventeen
countries. Most have not been shown in Australia before, and it is certainly
the first time that so many contemporary makers of so called Fantastic
and Visionary art have been shown together in this country.
Fantastic and Visionary Art can be seen as a large category, spanning
many centuries, this exhibition concentrates only on artists who emerged
since the Second World War. These artists are generally little known
in Australia, where exhibitions of the art of the unconscious and mystical
realms has tended to concentrate on the work of artists who emerged
between the wars, such as the first wave Surrealists.
Art is a description derived from the great psychiatrist Carl Jung,
who believed the Visionary Mode derived from the historical unconscious
and pointed to things unknown, hidden and secretive. For Jung such art
was a true symbolic expression an art which could shape the unconscious
psychic life of mankind because it had "penetrated to that matrix of
life in which all men are embedded, which imparts a common rhythm to
all human existence, and allows the individual to communicate his feeling
and his striving to mankind as a whole".
said: "Art is a kind of innate drive that seizes him and makes him its
instrument", and the Visionary Artist is "collective man".
think the majority of the artists in this exhibition would identify
with Jung's notion of the artist/shaman, the revealer of hidden and
healing truths, but others would stress the individuality of their vision
and assert that the collectivist aspects of Jungian thought are irrelevant
to their art.
should be said at this point also, that many of the artists in this
exhibition are now, or have been in the past, subject to intense visionary
experience that they have understood in more or less supernatural and
spiritual terms. That is not to say that each work in this exhibition
is some sort of "painted hallucination" but it does assert that these
artists make art which attempts to remind us of the thin tissue of "conventional
reality" cloaking the "real truth" behind appearances. They have been
shaken to the core by visionary experience, and can no longer view the
mundane world with passive trust.
are particularly pleased to be able to include works by Ernst Fuchs
and HR Giger in the exhibition.
two artists are particularly important in the development of post war
Visionary art, exerting a wide influence not only through their amazing
paintings and prints, but also via their adoption of popular art forms
such as movies, television, book publishing and furniture design. To
oversimplify things somewhat, Giger and Fuchs are seen as representing
the two poles of visionary art, between which many others place themselves.
represents the "dark side" of the Visionary movement, contrasting with
Fuch's more expansive, spiritual vision. Giger is of course famous particularly
for his work designing the Alien movies, but his bleak and claustrophobic
vision of androids ruled by demonic unconscious forces has become symbolic
of the alienation and rebellion of many young people. His work is sought
eagerly by collectors throughout the world. Both Fuchs and Giger have
achieved considerable financial success..both own castles, and Giger
has a museum devoted solely to his work.
exhibition includes work by the five most celebrated representatives
of the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism, Ernst Fuchs, Arik Brauer,
Rudolph Hausner, Wolfgang Hutter and Anton Lehmden who met in 1945 at
the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts (where the famous Hieronymous Bosch
Last Judgement was housed. It is said that the young artists studied
this work so much in search of technique that the director of the Academy
had the work boarded up for its own safety!).
youthful experiences of the dissolute remains of the Austro- Hungarian
empire and the rise of Nazism with the subsequent persecution of Jews
and non-doctrinaire artists, (among many other groups) helped turn their
art towards utopian and anti rationalistic ends.
is interesting to note that conservative Vienna was not however the
place where most of them gained wide critical acclaim, but Paris. The
artists were familiar with most of the leading surrealists of the day,
but they were not willing to subjugate themselves to "the strict dogma
of the unreflected, sub conscious act of painting as espoused and propagated
in the form of manifesto's by Andre Breton" and none identified as Surrealist
painters. They were however, helped on the way to fame and fortune by
older companions in art such as Salvador Dali and Rene Magritte.
1965 the first important touring exhibition of their work was organised,
which due to public demand travelled throughout Germany as well as Austria
and from then on they began to accumulate prizes in Biennales and other
international shows. In Japan alone there were five major exhibitions
the 1970's their work had become the virtual trademark of contemporary
Austrian culture. Indeed, although the Vienna School artists have since
then passed their days of strong individual development, their influence
to radiate throughout the world, and in Vienna alone there are now three
generations of artists proud to be known as Fantastic Realists. This
exhibition includes work by some of those succeeding generations of
artists; notable among these is Peter Proksch.
particular importance to succeeding generations of painters has been
the Vienna School rediscovery from the old masters of the famous egg
tempera paint mixture and glazing method taught by Ernst Fuchs as the
Mische technique. This technique enables great detail and luminosity.
Fuchs has been sought out by students from many countries, and Vienna
School techniques are now practiced and taught in turn by Brigid Marlin
and Robert Venosa among others, although it is a most labour intensive
of the works in the exhibition are of small size. This is common for
Visionary art of all epochs because the detail invested in visionary
works precludes large-scale pieces, and because the visionary state
that accompanies the creation of many of these works, does not allow
for prolonged contemplation.
and America have a number of museums devoted to imaginative art of the
sort we are showing, museums which include works by most of the artists
we present here. It is the wish of the artist, collector and exhibition
curator Damian Michaels, that Australia is not left behind, but should
have its own strong collection of Visionary Art. Damian Michaels has
founded an international art magazine "Art Visionary" from his Melbourne
base, and in the pages of his journal we become aware of many of the
artists we show in this exhibition and of their sense of community and
Fantastic and Visionary Art is not a movement with a committee and a
manifesto, when one sees Damian Michael's correspondence with the artists
of this show, one realises that this exhibition is indeed a grouping
of like minded souls, which has arisen in an almost "traditional" fin
de siecle manner, in the hope of forging something potent and good for
the new millennium
of the artists emphasise the life affirming and spiritually elevating
nature of these works, and some regard this art as vitally important
to mankind, believing it provides numerous Jungian keys to consciousness
expansion and liberation.
many of these artists would see themselves as belonging to a contemporary
international Visionary Art movement, others owe their allegiance to
Surrealism and Symbolism, and others would deny adherence to any force
other than their own imaginations. Some are experimenters with the new
generation of psychedelic drugs, and owe as much to Leary and McKenna
as they do to Freud and Jung, or Eliaphas Levi and Crowley.
paradoxically, given the rather old fashioned stress on realist technique
of many of these artists, most take advantage of the latest technology,
and are connected via the Internet. Most of the artists who identify
as Visionary artists are connected, and constantly exchange ideas with
one another, most have web sites, many linking to other artists. As
a result there is a strong sense of community among the worldwide visionary
art scene, which in turn leads to developments in parallel.
the similarities and differences in motivation and intent, what is clear
from this fascinating exhibition, is the dedication of all of the included
artists to exploring the limits of the human psyche, and of their intense
commitment to creativity and imaginative vision. Many of the artists
believe that the making of this visionary art is in itself a spiritual
activity that has beneficial effects for the artist, and for all those
who come into contact with this art.
art is not new; indeed, it is as old as art itself. Anthropologists
speculate that the very earliest cave painters were intent upon sympathetic
magic when they painted their bison and deer under the control of man.
It is believed that the art had a shamanic purpose akin to the ceremonial
uses of many works of Aboriginal Australia.
of the artists of the Byzantine, Gothic and Renaissance periods were
intent upon elevating the viewer beyond the humdrum of his material
plane into an ethereal realm of the spirit. Religious artists have wanted
to record the great deeds of Christ and of Christians so that unlettered
people would know of these deeds and imitate them. Many Christian artists
aimed to transport the viewer into a state of contemplation akin to
used similar techniques of luminosity, colour and figural expression
as are used in this show. Certain of these great artists from Western
art history have influenced most of the artists in our exhibition, and
this is as it should be. Isaac Newton is often quoted "If I have seen
further than other men, it is because I have stood on the shoulders
notes that the goal of art as a means to spiritual growth has been shared
by many artists who were not figurative painters. I think of the Islamic
calligraphic artists and in particular of the great twentieth century
abstract artists Kandinsky and Mondrian.
most of the artists in this exhibition are figurative artists, and as
such have a lot in common with the Surrealists and the Symbolists, both
groups intent upon shattering the illusions of mundane existence in
the hope of a better world.
many respects the artists of Fantastic and Visionary Art remind me of
the Neo Platonists, rediscovering the elemental and eternal power of
the archetypal forms, and, like Plato, convinced of the power of art
to change society. Some critics of this art would perhaps agree with
Plato that such art can also be dangerous.
artists of this exhibition may also be compared to the mystical Pre-Raphaelite
Brotherhood, re-discovering and mastering what they understand of the
styles of the old masters, not because there is something intrinsically
good in the figurative art and techniques of the past, but because they
believe that a well drawn human figure is the most universal and potent
cypher, capable of unparalleled communication and penetration into the
other words, they use the human form because everyone has a body and
we can identify more easily with symbols that interact with the human
form. Certain of the artists are swept along by their own imaginations,
and sometimes a crudity of drawing and of expression creeps in, however,
in most cases the overall power of the image overcomes a naive expression,
as it did for the famous visionary artists William Blake and Le Douanier
believe this is an important exhibition, and I am delighted that we
are able to present it for tour. I wish to thank the staff at Global
Arts Link in particular for their help and their faith in the importance
of this exhibition.
wish also to thank James Gleeson and Watters Gallery for the loan of
a fine work. It is important to be able to represent Australian artists
of the highest calibre in this exhibition, as Australia has a proud
Surrealist and Visionary tradition.
am grateful to Damian Michaels not only for his curatorial exhibition
development, but also for drawing so many of these fine artists to my
attention. Damian is indeed an artist of Vision, whose collection, magazine,
and eventual museum will surely take their place among the significant
art events in this country.
Sisley Director, Orange Regional Gallery June 2003