Rarely seen in the mainstream media, visionary art is the undergrowth of creative expression. Created on the outskirts of the dominant society, it has continued to challenge consumer culture with a journey that ventures inwards rather than outwards to superficial realms.
A vessel transcending the physical, it crosses multiple dimensions, carrying a mystical knowledge of universal energy. It’s like the universe has taken a magic marker to create invisible patterns of geometric forms that artists can follow; visualising its perfection; depicting the fine line between science and spirituality.
Legendary artist, Ernst Fuchs describes it well. He says the visionary artist “attempts to see the unseen – attaining a visionary state that transcends our regular modes of perception.”
Fascinating however, is the spirit of its expression, which has made a profound contribution to the visual communication of the ancient, tribal and philosophical wisdom of All That Is. It’s an expression that’s being carried into the future in an evolutionary way by some of the most talented visionary artists today.
The usual suspects continue to make a powerful impact on thousands of people who are experiencing it for the first time at arts and music events around the world. The impact has been both positive and overwhelming.
The movement, however, is bigger than we realise and it is growing across the world, as demonstrated by artists such as Nicole Mizoguchi (Japan); Adam Fu (Taiwan); Raul Casillas Romo (Mexico/USA); Pouyan Kosravi (Iran) and Praveen Zingade (India).
It’s also a form of expression that’s been with us through the ages. From Hieronymous Bosch and Salvador Dali to Ernst Fuchs and even William Blake, visionary art has been experienced through a myriad of styles. Fine artist, Amanda Sage is trailblazing the way ahead as one of the most vibrant artists on the scene today. She says “visionary art is influenced by many different styles, whether it’s symbolism, surrealism or fantastic realism.”
Luke Brown maps his “hyper-spatial experiences” using a combination of digital and painting mediums: crossing boundaries, defining a new generation of artist for which technology becomes an important tool when projecting lucid dreams, dialogues and mystical experiences.
Notable contemporary artist, Alex Grey often cites “cave art” as one of the earliest forms of visionary art. In his book, Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World, Paul Stamets makes reference to a psychedelic piece of art that is 7000-years indicating “mushroom use.”
Yet despite its historical roots – visionary art has been subjected to labels such as “outsider art.” Perhaps this is due to the fact it has often flourished far from the borders of mainstream modern culture.
Amanda Sage believes that this so-called “rejection” of visionary art is connected to the conditioning-effect of organised religion and its “rejection and criminalization of entheogenic plants that have been used for millennia in tribal cultures.” She adds: “Maybe it’s not so sellable or easy to package into the system as it is…”
Digital artist, Android Jones says: “I think visionary art would be better described as “inner-sider art” because it’s more of a reflection of the visions and images within the psyche, than outside it.”
Stereotypes however, continue to exist. Last year, UK newspaper, the Guardian reported that psychedelic art is “quite clearly designed for an audience on acid.”
Artists such as Mati Klarwein, however, have always said that you don’t actually need to take psychedelics to create. Klarwein even admits that back in the seventies, he “lied” about taking psychedelics just to get his work published in a book about visionary art!
“You don’t have to take drugs to be a visionary artist,” says Android Jones, “but if you like taking drugs and making art, then being a visionary artist is a good excuse.”
Amanda Sage agrees: “There are many [artists] inspired by dreams, direct channelling and storytelling, so first of all it is absolutely not necessary to consume psychedelic substances to create art…
“But it’s also important to note that quite a few influential people in the the realm of the internet, computers, music, architecture and psychology give credit to the psychedelic state for mind and heart-opening experiences.”
Amazonian artist, Juan Carlos Taminichi says: “Since pre-historic times, our ancestors have made their connection to the earth through a cosmic vision, as seen in their paintings, songs and dances. And so it is in the same way that our indigenous people continue to make that connection through the energy of the sacred plants.”
It would be apt at this moment, to pay tribute to the incredible Robert Venosa and his work of “Fantastic Realism.” The artist made a profound contribution to the communication of the inner voyage, inspired by entheogenic plants. Works such as Ayahuasca Dream, DM Tree and Hallucinatory are a graphic portrayal of the visions he received during his experiences with these plants.
The artist explored the furthest reaches of the imagination and leaves behind a legacy that continues to inspire visionary artists today.
Death and the after life are the biggest taboos in western society. We can argue that this is partly reflected by the mainstream media’s response to visionary art. However, the movement is exploding across Europe – where it’s needed most – and where thousands of people are experiencing it for the very first time.
Amanda Sage sums it all up perfectly: “It isn’t just about the artists. It’s about a whole culture stepping up to challenge, experiment and exhibit an expanded view of reality. Visionary art is a part of an ancient set of waves and it’s going to rock the boat. This is just the beginning.”