My art show goes up in a week and now the most difficult part has arrived–the Artist’s Statement. But in this odious task, which I’ve always dreaded, I may have a small advantage. I’ve actually been working on it since I began this series, some three months ago. I only need glean the relevant bits from my blog posts and tidy them up. Right.
Blake saw Albion (universal Man) held in deadly sleep, in thrall to satanic, scientific-materialism that separated him from Jerusalem, his emanation, and the Heaven within himself.
The Gnostics taught that soul is imprisoned in matter; that Gnostic experience is a return to Divinity through overcoming the demonic forces (Archons) who hold humanity in bondage to dense spheres of matter. These teachings informed much of Blake’s work.
His work also reflects the Neoplatonic doctrine that acknowledges the primacy of the spiritual world and sees nature as the “vegetable glass” reflecting spiritual truths. Post-Cartesian science that recognizes only natural phenomenon perceived by the senses as sole measure of truth is the fundamental error which precipitated Jerusalem’s’s fall.
Jerusalem tells of Los’s struggles with Urizen (reasoning power) to re-establish harmony among the four Zoas (universal, four-fold man,) and the building of Golganooza, Los’s great city of art and science.
…and fourfold the great City of Golganooza: fourfold to the north ,
And toward the south fourfold & fourfold toward the east & west,
Each within the other toward the four points: that toward
Eden, and that toward the World of Generation.
The Zoa’s correspond with the four Buddha families who inhabit the vast edifice of spiritual architecture in the Tibetan Book of the Dead.
…at the northern gate of one’s skull is Vajra, Dark green, snake headed, and holding a bell.
O you, the four female gatekeepers…
Perform the rites which obstruct the doors leading to rebirth from the intermediate state!
Like the Buddhist masters, Blake saw that salvation lay in the recognition that God, Angels and Demons reside in the mind. Christ’s resurrection was not a single event of time, unique to a single individual, but as expression of the universal Christ-spirit within. This interiorization of the mysteries is part of the evolution of consciousness and the realization of the Divine Human. For Blake, Jesus is imagination, and lamented “Abstract thought warring against imagination.” The tragic effects of Urizen’s reign were evident in the squalor and slavery of the London cityscape where was enacted the cosmic drama of spiritual redemption.
Los is the fiery, artistic genius whose task is to restore Jerusalem and re-establish harmony among conflicting aspects of Albion; an inner kingdom that has been usurped by the soul-denying power of Urizen. The soul divided into warring entities is a sign that Albion has fallen into a sleep that closes the doors of spiritual perception. Caretaker of archetypal images, and fluent in the language of correspondences, Los forges celestial links in his fiery furnace, and illuminates the inner, demonic specters that would banish Jerusalem forever.
Here is a small study for a larger piece. I’m wanting to keep it lean, avoid accumulation of extraneous detail and focus on atmosphere, light and a general feeling of spaciousness. This one seems to suggest loss.
Shadowy forms step forward from the mists with a single swipe of the paint rag. They appear in my dreams silhouetted against ancient fires, as if to demand I attend to their their melancholy plight wandering the in-between.
The memory practice is working. I went from recalling no dreams at all, to writing 5 pages this morning. These seem to have associations with the art project, “real” life, and offer encounters with Asiatic shamans in crazy hats who get on my case for some vague act of forgetfulness.
The intent to work with the spontaneous flow of dream imagery-the attempt to bring unconscious content into the light of day-involves a confrontation with subject/object paradox. Who is doing the observing? Who is observed? Looking inward brings up thorny issues about perception and reality that artists have been struggling with since Cezanne, and which mystics have explored for centuries.
The Tibetan Book of the Dead
Blake saw his brethren bound in this dungeon, and sang of fallen Albion held in thrall to the satanic, scientific-materialism that set man apart from nature, charity and the Heaven within himself.