Friday, March 28, 2014

Arty Farty Friday ~ Alex Grey's spiritual, visionary and psychedelic art.

Alex Grey is an American artist whose speciality is described as spiritual, visionary or psychedelic art. He was born November 29, 1953 in Columbus, Ohio. His work includes performance art, installation art, sculpture and painting. Grey is a Vajrayana practitioner (complex and multifaceted system of Buddhist thought and practice). He and his wife Allyson Grey are the co-founders of the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, a non-profit church supporting Visionary Culture in Wappingers Falls, New York.

Grey’s paintings can be described as a blend of sacred, visionary art and postmodern art. He is best known for his paintings of glowing anatomical human bodies, images that “x-ray” the multiple layers of reality. His art is a complex integration of body, mind, and spirit. The Sacred Mirrors, a life-sized series of 21 paintings, took 10 years to complete, and examines in detail the physical and metaphysical anatomy of the individual. “The inner body is meticulously rendered – not just anatomically precise but crystalline in its clarity”. Many of his paintings include detailed representations of the skeleton, nervous system, cardiovascular system, and lymphatic system. Grey applies this multidimensional perspective to paint the universal human experience. His figures are shown in positions such as praying, meditating, kissing, copulating, pregnancy, birth and death. His work incorporates many religious symbols, including auras, chakras, and icons with geometric shapes and tessellations in natural, industrial, and multicultural situations. Grey’s paintings are permeated with an intense and subtle light that is rare in art history. “It is the light that is sublime in Grey’s oeuvre – which is the most important innovation in religious light since the Baroque – and that makes the mundane beings in them seem sublime, in every realistic detail of their exquisite being.

Grey's father, a graphic designer, first taught Alex to draw. He later attended Columbus College of Art and Design for two years, dropped out, painted billboards for a year, then attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. In his childhood he would collect insects and dead animals and bury them in the back yard. Death and the spirit are constant themes in his art. He spent five years at Harvard Medical School, working in the Anatomy department, studying the human body, preparing dead bodies, for dissection; from this experience he gathered detailed understanding of the inner human body. Also influential upon Alex Grey's style were his experiences with LSD.

There's a report of Jonathan Talat Phillips' interview with Alex Grey at Reality Sandwich website HERE
First question:

When did you start making visionary art?

Alex Grey: My art has always been in response to visions. Rather than confine my subject to representations of the outer worlds, I include portrayals of the multi-dimensional imaginal realms that pull us toward consciousness evolution. That is the nature of all sacred art. The arts are the perfect medium for transmissions from inner domains. My entheogenic visionary experiences felt universal so I looked for a way of portraying these directly. My X-ray figures reinforce a sense of human unity and the mystical experiences they undergo hold a sacred mirror to the psyche.
The best place to see Alex Grey's artwork in good resolution, large format is at his own website HERE. I'll include just a few images, as examples.


 "Wonder - Zena Gazing at the Moon"  1996

Natal chart using data from Astrodatabank - a birth time said to have been provided by the artist, but without detail of whether am or pm - caution is advised. I'll use the am version here. The chart for 9.45pm would give Leo rising (10*) Moon in Virgo (26*).

In the chart of an artist specialising in spiritual, visionary, and/or physically exact content I'd expect to see prominent Sagittarius - that box is ticked: Sun in Sagittarius. While the spiritual/visionary side wouldn't call for Virgo, artwork depicting detailed inner workings of the human body would, I think - another box ticked: Moon in Virgo, whether birth time were am or pm.

Additionally, Venus and Mercury conjoined in Scorpio are in harmonious Watery trine to Uranus in Cancer, an easy blend of the arts/communication with new ideas, somewhat eccentric-seeming to some viewers, though more easily accessible to others.
Also Jupiter in Gemini in Airy trine to Neptune in Libra echoes a similar blend of communication/publication and creative vision.

Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s).


mike said...

I recently became familiarized with this artist from another website. All of his planets are disposited by Venus and Mars in mutual reception. I'm hesitant to comment on houses, because indicates time of birth as unknown and gives it a "C" rating.

BTW - another artist a little bit along this line in Mark Henson:

Twilight said...

mike ~ Re "C" rating at - there's a note there that the time was given by the artist to... (a writer/journalist?) but without an indication whether it was am or pm - which is a tad better than nothing at all I guess, but hardly reliable.

There is a similarity in Mark Henson's work and subject matter - though without the finely detailed inner human physical detail of Alex Grey's paintings, that's what I think sets Grey apart from most others of the genre.

LB said...

Twilight & mike ~ With Neptune in Libra conjunct the MC, square the Nodes and *exactly* trine Vesta in Aquarius in the 2nd (and Jupiter in Gemini), I think the birth time fits pretty well. Especially when you consider how his use of psychedelic drugs (Neptune square Uranus!) has influenced his art and helped to make him famous.

Plus, I've read where Capricorn is the sign of the shaman, which would make Capricorn Rising with NN in Capricorn in the 1st another good fit. Capricorn can be *very* driven to succeed - placed in the 1st would give him the sustained drive and focus necessary to give concrete form to his personal visions.

Putting some of his spiritual and political views aside, he's a very talented and fascinating artist and poet. Being a child of the 60's and 70's, his type of art appeals to me.:)

Twilight said...

LB ~ Neptune at midheaven is a definite plus for the time of birth used for the chart as are the other aspects you mention.

I haven't seen Capricorn linked to shamen (not being terribly keen on the concept of shamanism it's not surprising), but a very quick Googling brought The Oxford Astrologer's mention of it:

So, yes, another box ticked if that time were near enough correct.

No doubt at all about his talent, and dedication. I like some of his paintings a lot - my favourite, so far, is the one in my post titled
"Wonder - Zena gazing at the Moon" - oh and the arm + peace sign of course!

LB said...

Thanks for that link, Twilight - not only was there something on Capricorn's association with shamanism (and good music to listen to while I read), but also something about the significance of 0 degrees Capricorn. I found the post and comments that followed pretty interesting since my progressed Venus is at that degree.

And in case you were wondering, I'm no shaman.

mike (again) said...

In my first comment, I wrote quite a bit more, but then stopped and deleted. I don't like to declare a thesis, then question the birth time...circumstantial astrology at best.

I do agree with both your observations, Twilight and LB, particularly what you, LB, state regarding the "shaman" aspect. This quote from the writings of Alice Bailey was deleted from my first comment. If we assume his birth time is 9:45 AM or PM, he has Capricorn (AM) or Cancer (PM) on the ascendant:

"Capricorn is opposite Cancer and these constellations are the two great gates of the zodiac. Cancer opens the door to incarnation, mass life and human experience. Capricorn opens the door into the life of spirit and the Kingdom of God. Cancer admits the soul to Humanity, Capricorn to the Hierarchy. stands ever open, but for aeons the door of incarnation in Cancer is preferred as ambition urges us from life to life. This is the secret of rebirth. Eventually disappointed by the worthlessness of earthly gratification we begin to orient ourselves towards the gradual growth of spiritual ambition and the desire for liberation. In Capricorn the initiate comes to spiritual awareness, demonstrated in Aquarius as the world server and in Pisces as the world saviour."

Assuming a 9:45 AM birth, his Mars is in 9th, the house of Sagittarius, reiterating his Sun. His Venus is in the 10th, house of Capricorn ruled by Saturn...his Saturn is in the 10th, too. All of his planets are ruled by Venus and Mars in mutual reception. Venus sits right on his 11th cusp, which opposes his Taurus 5th house cusp of expressive creativity, which is ruled by Venus. His Pluto is in its natural 8th house (fascination with death) along with his Moon, which is at the mid-point of his Mercury-Venus trine to Uranus...this offers him a strong outlet for the detailing of corpses and emotional interpretation of death into artistic expression.

A BTW oddity...his November 29 day of birth is the same DAY, but not year, as my older sister, and he was born about three weeks after my younger sister's birthday. He and my younger sister share many of the same pieces, and even houses (assuming 9:45 AM birth for Grey) younger sister's rising is 27 Sagittarius.

LB said...

mike ~ What you've added seems to fit. The nature of Grey's work makes his 8th house Moon at the midpoint you mentioned interesting too.

Good quote about getting sick of incarnating. I know I am!

Funny about your sisters. Actually, there were a couple of synchronicities related to this post of Twilight's - for me too.

Twilight said...

LB and mike ~ All interesting!

Odd, though, mike that when I calculated the 9.45pm birthtime using my software it gave Leo rising, not Cancer... Leo 10.2*
I did it with the rectification tool - maybe it's not accurate. I'll try it using the usual method tomorrow.

mike (again) said...

Twilight, Columbus, Ohio, is 39N latitude, so the "circle" turns increasingly elliptical the farther north the birthplace. I put his data into and it indicates a 2* Leo ascendant for a 9:45 PM time.

The qualities of a PM birth may match better...Leo ascendant with Sun in 5th house in particular.

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ Hmmm I've done a chart in the ususal way using 9.45pm and it still gives Leo 10.02* ascendant. (Time used is EST)

Leo still in 5th though - yes. Neptune close to descendant angle, so still in a strong position.

Hard to say which is the better match, there are arguments for both.

mike (again) said...

I have no idea why the discrepancy with the ascendant degree. I just plugged the numbers back into and get the same chart as before with a 2* Leo rising. I'm using the "Columbus (Franklin Country) Ohio" place of birth...there was a state hospital in Franklin Cty and several other options for Columbus, Ohio, but different counties. Wiki states that Columbus, Ohio is a multi-county greater metropolitan area. Either way, he has a Leo rising, if born at 9:45 PM...LOL.

Twilight said...

mike ~ That's the location I used (Franklin County). Strange ain't it?
The chart in the post (9.45 am) has asc. 4.48 Capricorn,'s chart for the same time is just one minute different at 4.49 Capricorn, so my software is pretty much in line with theirs.

Anyway, it's even possible that neither birth time is the actual one, so...never mind!