1. Home
  2. ·
  3. News
Omega Institute

January 2018

Seeing the Soul Through Visionary Art 

Omega: How do you describe visionary art to someone who encounters it for the first time?

Alex and Allyson: The visionary artist’s mission is to make the soul perceptible. Where scientific, materialist culture develops the eyes of outer perception, visionary art encourages the development of inner sight. To find the visionary realm, we use the intuitive inner eye, the eye of contemplation, the eye of the soul.

Visionary mystical experiences are humanity’s most direct contact with God and are the creative source of all sacred art and wisdom traditions. The best currently existing technology for sharing the mystic, imaginal realms is a well-crafted artistic rendering by an eyewitness. This is why visionary art matters.

The visionary realm embraces the spectrum of imaginal spaces, from infinitude to formless voids. Psychologist James Hillman calls it the “imaginal realm.” Poet and artist William Blake called it the “divine imagination.” The aborigines call it the “dreamtime.” Sufis call it “alam al-mithal.” Plato writes of “ideal archetypes.” Tibetans speak of the “Sambhogakaya,” a dimension of inner richness. Theosophists refer to the astral, mental, and nirvanic planes of consciousness. Carl Jung knew this realm as the “collective symbolic unconscious,” the space we visit during dreams and altered or heightened states of consciousness.

We tune into a visionary world when we deeply meditate or dream. Mystics of all wisdom traditions describe visionary experiences of luminous beings, heaven worlds, wheels within wheels, hell worlds, and shadow forces. Cross-culturally, shamanic reality describes lower, middle, and upper realms accessed via divine imagination.

Divine canons of proportion, sacred geometry, mystic sigils, and sacred writing were visualized by wisdom masters and artists by contact with the heaven worlds. Sacred art can be a focal point of devotional energy to access the transcendental domain and make contact between the spiritual and material realms.

Omega: What makes your pieces unique in the visionary art world?

Alex and Allyson: Alex's paintings describe worlds of mystic light and love. Some “x-ray” the physical body and interlace glowing subtle energies of the soul during such archetypal human experiences like praying, kissing, copulating, pregnancy, birth, nursing, and dying. Alex's paintings honor the sacredness of planet Earth and some recent works explore the subject of consciousness from the perspective of “universal beings” whose bodies are grids of fire, eyes, and infinite galactic swirls.

The symbol system in Allyson's paintings represent a worldview comprised of chaos, order, and secret writing. Chaos is order plus entropy, embodied in the physical world. Order refers to the interconnected harmonious patterns, the transcendental unity called heaven, nirvana, and the divine. Secret writing, comprised of twenty unpronounceable letters, represents the spirit of communication irreducible to concepts, windows to inner concepts manifested in the material world.

Omega: How big is the visionary art community today? What changes have you seen in the community since you started painting?

Alex and Allyson: The visionary art community is now a global movement, and when we started out there were only a handful of us.

Early on we were friends with Paul Laffoley, Mati Klarwein, Ernst Fuchs, H.R.Giger, Robert Venosa, and Martina Hoffmann. Everybody knew and respected each others' effort to portray alternate realities and higher dimensions.

The term "visionary art" appeared in the title of Alex's first book Sacred Mirrors: The Visionary Art of Alex Grey, published by Inner Traditions in 1990. The maiden voyage of the 5-day Visionary Art Intensive at Omega occurred the following summer and we've gathered at Omega every summer since.

Now the world is full of visionary artists and writers. As more artists experience the visionary worlds through use of shamanic visionary sacraments, dancing, drumming, yoga, or meditation, they will naturally want to share their heart-opening, mind-scorching insights. This direct approach at sharing the glimpses of infinite beauty has been spread through the worldwide transformative festival network and via the intelligence of the social networking sites of psychedelic and visionary art.

Many exhibitions and books on visionary art have been published over the past decades and galleries and curators specializing in visionary art are emerging around the world, too.

Omega: Do you think the art world in general is more conscious today than when you first began?

Alex and Allyson: We began being artists as babies and have never not been artists. There are many art worlds. We are all evolving.

Creativity as Spiritual Practice 

Omega: How do your creative and spiritual lives intertwine—are they separate or one in the same?

Alex and Allyson: Our creative and spiritual lives are completely entangled and indistinguishable. Integrating creativity as spiritual practice is the core teaching of CoSM. Artists working together form an accelerator of inspired energies that enhance and catalyze evolution. We have three bodies of work between us: Alex's art, Allyson's art, and CoSM, a social sculpture we share with a community.

Omega: Not all artists choose to teach. What has teaching taught you?

Alex and Allyson: When art is life, teaching is no different than art. Most great traditions view a life as a learning opportunity, a journey of self-discovery and awakening. A good teacher honors the student who has come for mentorship. A good teacher develops devotion and altruism toward students and relinquishes ego and selfish motives. A good teacher is authoritative enough to provide structure and yet open to possibility and opportunity. As teaching partners, we cultivate highlighting and honoring each other's special abilities.

Omega: How do you define success in your career? What motivates you to keep creating?

Alex and Allyson: In 1985, having taken a therapeutic dose of MDMA, we had a simultaneous vision of building a temple for the Sacred Mirrors series of paintings. Entheon, the sanctuary of visionary art at CoSM, a 9,500 square foot carriage house transformation, is now underway. When Entheon is open and CoSM is endowed, this will be success. We are closer than we've ever been, and it's all been a miracle to this point. Immersing ourselves in a project of unlimited scope has forced us to stretch, take risks, and learn a great deal about ourselves and the world.

Omega: What practices do you do on a daily basis to keep creativity flowing?

Alex and Allyson: Prayer puts us in contact with spirit worlds. We paint and write much of every day in the studio or on the road. It is our spiritual practice and our life.

Omega: What’s one of the most unexpected sources of inspiration for your work?

Alex and Allyson: A miracle is always unexpected and all of life and consciousness itself is a miracle. It is a miracle that a growing global community continues to band together with us to cocreate sacred space. Sharing a higher purpose powers an engine for personal and global transformation.

We’ve been amassing many mystic perspectives on the visionary worlds and creative process. A Russian Mystic named Berdayev said, “There is the primary creative act in which man stands as it were face-to-face with God, and there is the secondary creative act in which he faces other people and the world.”

In our partnership, being inspired by the other is a regular feature that is always filled with surprises. The resilience of our love in the face of the unexpected; our mutual unstoppability, tenacity, commitment, and ingenuity; the source of our individual and collaborative bodies of work lies in the influence of the other.

Omega: How have you maintained your relationship for 40 years when so many people struggle in this area?

Alex and Allyson: Fifty percent of all couples that marry stay together. It is entirely possible to create a relationship that lasts, and many do. Here's the key: Choose wisely and then stop choosing. Make it work. Communication is everything, and everyone is for loving. The trouble is generally not “over there.” The reward for an enduring relationship is self-transformation. Staying in love is the most fun adventure and worth all you go through to become a better person.

That said, abuse, addiction, and resigned complacency cannot be tolerated in an enduring relationship.

Omega: How do you deal with both praise and criticism of your art?

Alex and Allyson: Art is soul-to-soul communication. Our ears are open to any authentic response to the work. After Alex got a really bad review, he found in his notebooks comments he had written about his own work that were equally scathing. All the bad reviews cancel out when you see tens of thousands of tattoos of your work (or even one). The evolutionary quest includes seeking out and acknowledging mentors. Sometimes people stand in line for hours in the cold to tell us how much our work means to them. When we practice being present in the moment, receive their love, and mirror it back to them, a transmission happens and affirms both our world

Featured Art 'Rainbow Eye Ripple' by Alex Grey & Allyson Grey

Copyright © 2023 Alex Grey
All Rights Reserved
Built with ❤ in Wappinger, New York