Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Shadow Visions

Visionary art is a label that has been bandied about these last few years and tends to get stuck to folks painting psychedelic blow-outs, ayahuasca visions, elaborate symbolic cosmographies and the like. Most of these visions are light-driven. The artist has ostensibly seen through the veils separating this world from the greater unseen one and has come back to report on their discovery via affordably priced giclée prints on canvas or sometimes lenticular blinkety-blinkies. Alex Grey, of course, is the name most often associated with this movement.
    Digital artists too using high resolution fractal software also create moving visions, allowing the viewer to tunnel into other-worldy realms. These visionary artworks so far discussed reach for a realm many yearn for, a realm of the light, angelic superstructures, shamanic bestiaries and cosmic unification porn. They are also undoubtedly related to the large and still growing body of fantasy art, from the paperback cover, the comic book, the airbrushed van to the album cover, the scratch built kit, fan art and beyond.
    Fantasy art has always embraced the mystical vision, the world beyond ours. It has also always shown us something other than the light of good vibes. There is a flip side to these visions. There are artists, rarely called visionary but are undeniably so, that choose to paint the shadow side of the cosmic dream. Nightmares, visceral architecture of body parts, spinal landscapes, creatures horrific and vast, the bad trip.
    H.P. Lovecraft sowed many seeds of unspeakable cosmic horror and set the stage for artists to bask in shadow. Heavy Metal album art often showcased the fantastical, Death Metal album art went to town, playing in the guts.
    Recently the world lost a visionary artist of great caliber. H.R. Giger played out nightmares of bio-mechanics on every scale. Vast cathedrals of terror or isolated bodies bound by bone and cable. His visions fused the body and the machine, not some quaint steam era machine but the living machinery of alien wizardry. Part fetish wank painting, part study of much-used operative function, part landscape, all nightmare. Beautiful, lush, infinite, original nightmare. Bravo maestro, you saw and you executed your visions perfectly, true visions that resonate strongly with many viewers. You will be missed.