Saturday, February 15, 2014

"The Mission of Art" by Alex Grey

The "Mission of Art" is a book written by contemporary visionary artist Alex Grey, in which he traces his personal development and discusses art history, aesthetics, religion/ spirituality, mysticism, postmodernism, transpersonal psychology, perennial and idealist philosophy, processes of art reception/ interpretation, and also promotes the possibility of the transcendental potential of art.
Grey argues for a renewed spiritual content in contemporary art pointing out that in the present age artists have lost touch with the search for transcendence that infiltrated the work of great artists of the past (such as Michelangelo, Hieronymous Bosch, William Blake and Vincent van Gogh). For Grey (p.231-2) "art is a people's collective mind. Art is not a mere amusement, distraction, or fashionable investment... Art has a function and a mission to interpret the world, to reveal the condition of the soul, to encourage our higher nature and awaken the spiritual faculties within every individual".
Grey observes that (p.15) "an overemphasis on ego-driven artworks has lead to a culture of narcissistic spectacle and nihilist fragmentation". He also observes that "(although) artists are individualists of uncommon integrity, driven to be themselves and express themselves no matter what the cost" (p.179), "(their) unlimited freedom makes no demands of personal and social responsibility to honor or portray the interdependence of the individual within the larger context of humanity and the planet" (p.46). In his opinion, art should not merely aim towards personal gratification or rely on its aesthetic/monetary value, but should -and could- aim to promote the evolution of human consciousness and worldwide compassion.
According to Grey, art (and society at large) needs to adopt a globally-centered attitude which takes into account individual, collective and planetary needs. A spiritual art, which acknowledges all sacred paths and wisdom traditions, drawing upon a diversity of cultures, is what Grey is working toward. Discovering the truths that underlie human existence, accessing transpersonal archetypes in visionary states and expressing them through art is, as he says, his "mission" as an artist.


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