Archives For I:MAGE

As I mentioned earlier this month, from May 19th through the 25th London will host an international collection of esoteric artists in a special exhibition“I:MAGE,” sponsored by Fulgur Esoterica (publisher of the Abraxas journal). Boasting an impressive lineup of artists, both classic and contemporary, I:MAGE promises to bring more attention to esoteric art and show how these creative individuals collectively work towards the “externalization of the mythical.” 

"Hairesis" by Francesco Parisi

“Hairesis” by Francesco Parisi

“Ranging from the work of women pioneers such as Ithell Colquhoun and Steffi Grant, to the dark symbolist themes of Agostino Arrivabene and Denis Forkas Kostromitin, to the contemporary audio-visual practices of NOKO, I:MAGE promises to be a landmark exhibition.”

In speaking with Fulgur Esoterica about the show, they offered to send me some thoughts on the exhibition from two of the participating artists, Jesse Bransford and Francesco Parisi, in addition to insights from Christina Oakley Harrington, co-Editor of Abraxas, and Director of Treadwells esoteric book store in London (which will be hosting a range of talks, presentations, and discussions during the exhibition). I have long felt that esoteric fine art deserves more attention, so it is was my pleasure to accept their kind offer and now share the resulting communications with you here.

Christina Oakley Harrington

Christina Oakley Harrington

Christina Oakley Harrington: “The art world is waking up to the inner realities of its artists, and to the fact that for many centuries, right through modernism, many artists have been profoundly influenced by esoteric ideas and have worked intimately through (and with) occult symbolism. Medieval art history includes the study of iconography and symbolic programmes, but artists of more recent centuries have received no such attention, until the past ten years.  Even the surrealists, some of whose work is profoundly occult, have had their imagery largely overlooked or treated in solely personal terms.

The trends of 20th century art-history and art criticism meant there have been 80 years of writing on art which concentrates not on the inner experience of the artist, or of their symbolic language, but rather on form and materials. This is now changing, and it is very exciting indeed.

Austin Osman Spare

Austin Osman Spare

Recent art exhibitions have highlighted this change: in Paris at the Centre Pompidou in 2009, and at the Tate in Cornwall the following year, to name but two. We can also see it in the revived interest by the art world in Austin Osman Spare, whose work defies comprehension without an appreciation of his inner, esoteric philosophy and his ideas about magic.

When my dear friend Robert Ansell and I launched Abraxas Journal, it was not only to showcase contemporary occult artists to a wider artistic market, and also to bring esoteric fine art to the attention of the pagan community. This exhibition, which Robert is putting on with his company Fulgur Fine Art, is part of this shared vision. He’s putting on the show at a gallery next door to Treadwells, and we hope people will wander between the two spaces. Fugur have the paintings, and Treadwells are holding talks, lectures and a couple filmings. Of course we’re a bookshop, so we’re open all day for book-buying too.

Robert and I both feel that making art is a magical act, a talismanic act, as much as preparing a spell. In fact, it IS the creation of a spell. A spell enchants, it brings closer non-tangible realities to the textured body of our senses. So too does a painting. It makes real here something that is real elsewhere, invisibly.  

One of the aims of I:MAGE exhibition, and of our journal Abraxas, is to make pagans realise how gifted magical people are, even in terms of high culture. Pagans are often associated with pop culture and with charming illustration of the sort one finds on fantasy paperbacks. This is great of course, but what we are keen to show is that we, creative pagans, are everywhere – Pagans for a long time have been making paintings hang in the world’s leading art galleries, that are found framed walls of stately homes, that are in the collections of fine art collectors, are autioned at Sothebys. We just haven’t realised it.

Today there are younger working artists who are pagan in sensibility, and inflused with a magical world view. Some are well-known: Mark Titchner, for example, was on the prestigious British Turner Prize shortlist for his paintings which were in fact actually charged magical sigils. Some are less well-known but are fantastic. I:MAGE will be showcasing some of the brightest of these, and displaying their art next to some very well-known magical artists’ pieces, including Spare.

Jesse Bransford, detail of The Fourth Pyramid, 2013, Dimensions variable, Tempera paint on wall and floor, panels and paper, Installation at Galveston Artist Residency.

Jesse Bransford, detail of The Fourth Pyramid, 2013, Dimensions variable, Tempera paint on wall and floor, panels and paper, Installation at Galveston Artist Residency.

Jesse Bransford: “I came to the magical traditions as a young artist. I had been working with images from the traditions and had exposure to some of the visual aspects (you can’t get an art degree without at least hearing about the golden section). I was also studying the history of science and technology. This field led me to magic as the birthplace of science. As I became more interested in the history of magic (through scholars like Frances Yates, Michael Taussig etc.) I also began reading ‘primary sources.’ This led quickly to places like Fulgur, which I knew of from afar for many years. As time went on I became more involved, and my work became more explicit in it’s reference to and use of the magical traditions I was studying. Magic as a practice and metaphor binds all of my interests in art and life together and has enabled my work to expand into previously unimagined territories.”

Detail from "Pantocrator," a woodcut by Francesco Parisi.

Detail from “Pantocrator,” a woodcut by Francesco Parisi.

Francesco Parisi: “My art tries to focus on the corporeal, the material and the more grounding aspects of experience. I have grown up in a city where transcendental religions looked down on all of that – the pleasure of engraving, the smell of wood, the focus on the image represented. We all know how it goes, the flesh is sinful and the aim is to rise high up above it. That’s why I have explored a Dionysian theme for over ten years of my life. I guess I used it as a way to break free from that moral constriction. Day after day, for ten years, this was my ritual: sweat, hands on artisan work, focusing on the moment of creation rather than hoping for the moment of salvation. My art really isn’t about going up but about staying down and enjoying every moment of it.

I:MAGE marks a very important moment for me as an artist: it represents the possibility to display my work in front of a  public who will be able to competently engage with the message I want to put across, who know what it means to pick up a bowl and offer its content to the gods.”

The opening of I:MAGE is this Sunday, the 19th, from 12-8.30pm at Store Street Gallery in London. If you are anywhere in the vicinity, you owe it to yourself to see this show. You can find out more details at the I:MAGE exhibition site. In addition, Abraxas will be publishing a special edition of its celebrated journal for the show, which is a nice added incentive considering the quality of that publication.

The act of artistic creation is a sacred thing, one that has endured and journeyed into the secular temples we now call galleries and museums. Throughout history art and ritual praxis have melded to create lasting impressions and seismic shifts in our collective culture. We understand our experience through the results of creative process, and we deny this truth at our peril. Many artists already walk a liminal path, veering between the seen and unseen, making them essential guides to the otherworld, to what we call the “esoteric.” They remind us that the mythic is happening right here, right now, not in some distant past. The striving for excellence in the fine arts is a sign of health within any culture, religious or secular, and the nurturing of art should be a key ideal for modern Pagans. This show, I:MAGE, seems to be an important step in that journey.

Pagan Community Notes is a series focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. Reinforcing the idea that what happens to and within our organizations, groups, and events is news, and news-worthy. My hope is that more individuals, especially those working within Pagan organizations, get into the habit of sharing their news with the world. So let’s get started!

Esoteric Artists Gather for Exhibition in London: From May 19th through the 25th in London an international collection of esoteric artists will be on display in a special exhibition sponsored by Fulgur Esoterica, publisher of the Abraxas journal. Entitled “I:MAGE,” the show boasts a impressive lineup of artists, both classic and contemporary.

Jesse Bransford

Art by Jesse Bransford

“Fulgur Esoterica is pleased to present I:MAGE, a week-long exhibition showcasing the best international artists working in the emerging category of esoteric art. More than 16 artists will exhibit their work at Store Street Gallery, Bloomsbury, London, from Sunday 19 May to Saturday 25 May 2013. The week will culminate with the publication of a special issue of Abraxas titled, Charming Intentions: Occultism, Magic and the History of Art. Select Papers from the Cambridge University Conference, December 2012. The common thread between these artists is the internalisation of esoteric themes and the externalisation of the mythical, the magical and the mysterious in their many forms. Ranging from the post-1940 work of progressive women such as Ithell Colquhoun and Steffi Grant, to the contemporary dark symbolist wanderings of Agostino Arrivabene and Denis Forkas Kostromitin, and the exploratory audio-visual practices of NOKO, I:MAGE promises to be a landmark exhibition.”

In addition, famed London esoteric book store Treadwell’s will be hosting a range of talks, presentations, and discussions during the exhibition, and Abraxas will be publishing a special edition of its celebrated journal for the show. I’ve been in contact with Fulgur Esoterica, and hope to soon bring you an interview about the show. If you’re around London, I’d highly recommend attending this exhibition. I surely would if I could.

Llewellyn Titles Win Independent Publisher Awards: Llewellyn Worldwide has announced that four of their published titles have won an “IPPY,” from the Independent Publisher Book Awards. The four titles largely deal with various New Age topics (with one book being about sexuality), none are a the esoteric/Pagan titles the publisher is largely famous for.

“The 2013 Independent Publisher Awards (IPPYs) were revealed via an announcement on their website. The awards will be presented at a ceremony in New York on May 29. Our Llewellyn winners are below: Our Children Live On, by Elissa Al-Chokhachy (Bronze, Aging/Death & Dying), The Awakened Aura, by Kala Ambrose (Silver, New Age [Mind-Body-Spirit]), The Good Energy Book, by Tess Whitehurst (Bronze, New Age [Mind-Body-Spirit]), Great Sex Made Simple, by Mark A. Michaels & Patricia Johnson (Gold, Sexuality/Relationships). In addition, one book from Llewellyn’s Midnight Ink imprint was also a winner (Hide & Snake Murder, by Jessie Chandler took Gold in the Gay/Lesbian/Bi/Trans Fiction category).”

Congratulations to Llewellyn Worldwide and the authors on this recognition! You can find out more about the awards, here.

New Orleans Celebrates First Ever Pagan Pride Day: There are many Pagan Pride Day events each year, and while each brings its own local charm and significance to this movement, some firsts stand out. Such is the case with the first Pagan Pride Day being held this September in New Orleans, Louisiana. Being that this is a first for New Orleans, a place steeped in a history of cultures meeting and connecting, the event will include practitioners of Vodou, spiritism, and other syncretic traditions.

“While it is always a joy to to bring together the Pagan community with entertainment that appeals to their tastes, the over-arching goal of this day is to develop a dialogue between Pagans and non-Pagans in a city with deep (and overlooked) Pagan roots. It is also our great pleasure to include this city’s syncretic spiritual systems (i.e. Voudon, First Nation spiritism, Thelema, etc.) in our celebrations as well, so that we might bridge more gaps in New Orleans. Our theme of “spiritual gumbo” is meant to reflect our deep reverence for ALL the beliefs that make this city one of the most unique in the world.”

The event will feature Selena Fox, The Dragon Ritual Drummers, Edain McCoy, Christopher Penczak, and more. They are holding an IndieGoGo campaign to cover their festival’s ambitious first-year roster. So, if a New Orleans Pagan Pride festival is something you’d like to see happen, you should check it out, and add your support.

In Other Pagan Community News:

That’s all I have for now, have a great day!