MANIFESTO OF VISIONARY ART

      Johfra attempted to reveal 'the ancient One' underlying different cultural mythologies by bringing their symbols into combination with one another. As the painter noted in his writings, "The sphere of influence of symbols broadens and deepens into infinite Being when they enter into combination with one another. Then they have a decisive influence upon one another in a most illuminating way. In brief: a symbol, for those who can meditate upon it and lose themselves in it, is like a door offering entrance into a new spaces and dimensions of consciousness."(40)
      In the works of Ernst Fuchs, we also find this tendency to combine symbols of different cultural origin. Witness for example his Moses Before the Burning Bush or The Triumph of Christ. But, more fascinating still is his uncanny ability to combine different cultural styles of representation. Where 'the ancient prime of styles' left its greatest traces historically in, first of all, the 'pure' or clearly-defined styles of the Egyptians, Babylonians, and Greeks, it also re-appeared later in the personal styles of certain Visionary artists - except the 'pure' cultural styles of the past now re-appear inextricably mixed with one another.
       It is particularly true of the greatest Visionary artists - Michelangelo, Blake, Moreau, Fuchs - that the ancient cultural styles resurface - subtly invoked, turned about, re-asserted, and then merging harmoniously with one another into a single, personal style which, though shared, remains unique - revealing the Sacred with great expressivity and power.
      It must not be forgotten that, as an apprentice, Blake engraved plates for Bryant's New System of Mythology, which had images and styles from Egyptian, Babylonian, even Mithraic mythologies. The presence of these epic styles - their heaviness, monumentality, profound stillness, and constant



 
 
 


L. CARUANA

profiles - re-appeared time and again in Blake's works. The artist also had to sketch gothic figures in Westminster Abbey for plates to Basire's Archaeologia, giving rise to his long flowing lines, sweeping drapery, and energetic spirals and swirls - all in contrast to the stillness and monumentality of the ancient epic styles. Blake commented appropriately, "Let them look at Gothic Figures & Gothic Buildings & not talk of Dark Ages or any Age. Ages are all equal. But Genius is always above the Age."(41) Most of all, Blake's style evoked the antiquities of Greece, which he clearly admitted when he wrote that"the purpose for which alone I live is... to renew the lost Art of the Greeks."(42)
      But, despite these constant echoes and combinations of Ancient, Gothic, and Antique styles, Blake's manner was undoubtedly his own. His vision gave him access to the same timeless world and way-of-seeing which the ancients had beheld. And, almost unthinkable in the Puritan England of his time, came the artist's momentous realization that"the antiquities of every Nation under Heaven, is no less sacred than that of the Jews... All had originally one language, and one religion."*
       Here, perhaps in its most rudimentary form, is the realization that a lost image-language lay at the root of all cultural styles - a visionary language which Fuchs referred to later as 'the ancient prime of styles'.
      Gustave Moreau also possessed this broadening awareness of different cultural styles, and the possibility of uniting them. Among his post-humous

________________________________
*However, Blake quickly amends his original insight with the words, "This was the religion of Jesus, the everlasting Gospel. Antiquity preaches the Gospel of Jesus."(43)



 
 
 


<-- LAST PAGE

 


NEXT PAGE -->

 
 


HOME

 


EDITORIAL

 


MANIFESTO OF
VISIONARY ART


 


FUCHS
ON DALI


 


VISIONARY
PORNOGRAPHY