MANIFESTO OF VISIONARY ART

vision -- be that sacred, psychedelic, esoteric, oneiric, occult, alternative, archetypal, primitive, transpersonal, fantastic or - as it sometimes happens - surreal.
      All visionary artists are united by this spirit of on-going experimentation. And their works bear testimony to those mind-altering, soul-shattering but potentially enlightening experiences which may transpire over the course of each experiment.
      The aim of these experiments is to bring alternative states of consciousness to reality. Or rather, to bear witness to other realities which are made evident in alternative states of consciousness. Hence, the images, colours, reflections, modes of perceiving and indeed the insights which the artist himself has witnessed in a dream, vision, trance, revelation, mediumistic or drug-induced state are what he seeks to reproduce in a plastic medium, so as to give it a more or less permanent reality 'here', in the world of our shared perceptions and spoken dialogues.
      The artist on such a 'vision quest' is not seeking images for their own sake. Rather, the images uprise during his life-long journey to the Sacred, offering him entrance to a higher, spiritual realm. These images offer a gradual awakening to life's underlying holiness - what Aldous Huxley called 'the sacramental vision of reality.'(2) The God appearing in such momentary visions is not the 'Our Father' of traditional religions, but a metanoic (literally, 'mind-altering') experience of the Sacred, threatening to blast apart the very vessel into which it is being poured.
      Unprepared though endowed with this strange gift for 'seeing', the visionary artist finds himself isolated - an outcast prone to unusual insights. He is, by nature, an outsider, a wanderer, a derelict. And yet, for a few brief moments between the Genesis and Apocalypse, he may enter into union



 
 
 


L. CARUANA

with the Creator, bear witness to the timeless and eternal Unity that holds it all together. By recording such a momentary awakening in a work of art, he fixes, indeed 'freezes' that singular epiphany into an image for all to share.
      Such an image then stands as a doorway, which other similarily-inclined individuals may once more attempt to 'enter through'.
       To enter through the image is to momentarily regain the vision which the artist experienced at the outset. What is more, the beholder may re-enter the state of mind, even the state of being, which the artist first experienced. Such a 'mystic participation' is possible because the inscape underlying the artist's experience is not imagined, but real - only hidden, altered, even obstructed from our view."Man has closed himself up," Blake says, "till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern." But - as his well-known phrase adjoins -"If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite."(3) In another re-phrasing of this stirring declaration, Blake says that "Five windows light the cavern'd Man" - that is, the five senses, which he refers to elsewhere as"inlets of the soul." (4) But - "thro' one (he) can look and see small portions of the eternal world..." (5) Painting offers us a doorway into that hidden realm. It stills our wandering eye, concentrates it onto an image, offers it a more timeless way of seeing. Once the original vision is regained - and the threshold of the image is crossed - we find ourselves standing once more on the shared, timeless ground of the visionary experience.
      As such, the images and fragments of texts gathered here are nothing more than sketches - drawn from different angles and over various points in time - of an 'invisible landscape' which we, as visionary artists, have crossed countless times over the course of our shared journeys.



 
 
 


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