1. Home
  2. ·
  3. News
Qui Damanhur Futuro

January 2005

Alex Grey on Damanhurian Art

 Alex Grey is one of the most noted contemporary painters in America who has been involved in art with a spiritual dimension. His work is based upon the anatomy of the human body, creating disturbing images that challenge perception.

The principle themes underlying his work are death and transcendence, and the idea that art is a spiritual practice. Grey has become widely acclaimed for a series of 21 life-size figurative paintings called the Sacred Mirrors, which he began in 1979 and completed 10 years later. The painting guides the observer on an inner journey of discovery towards the divine, examining in detail the human body, mind and spirit to demonstrate the link between anatomical and spiritual forces.

With his wife Allyson and daughter Zena, Alex has created the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors in New York, a space dedicated to art and spirituality, which hosts moments of prayer and meditation at the time of full moon.

Several large format art books have been published of his work: ‘Sacred Mirrors’ which have sold 75,000 copies and been translated into five languages, and more recently ‘Transfigurations’ which includes more than 300 images of paintings and drawings. Alex Grey has also written the introduction to the art book on the ‘Temples of Humankind’, published in America in 2005.

Damanhurian interviewer: Can you give me your impressions of the Temples of Humankind?

Alex Grey: I think it will take a long time to really digest the impact of the Temples. I was meditating on it this morning, and, considering the state of the world, my overall impression was of a battlefield and a triage tent on that battlefield, where the human spirit has been found dead on arrival, and it’s been necessary to resuscitate it. The Temples of Humankind are the defibrillators or the electrified paddles that can shock the human heart and its divinity back to life, and this is medicine for the soul, this is desperately needed at this time.

The overall impression is a welcoming of all wisdom past, a balancing of masculine and feminine energies, a correspondence between heaven and earth. The re-establishment of truth, beauty and goodness as the linchpins of a spiritual potential. So, I think that when one goes into the mountain, it’s almost like being digested by deity. It has different organs, when you go through, different tubes and things. There is the alchemical laboratory, command post, center of the transformative process and by entering into the different elemental states, you activate that aspect of the psyche and the soul, and that element of the soul comes to life or is remembered.

So I was really pleased to hear that the orientation of Damanhurian philosophy, if I understand correctly, is that of remembrance of our divinity. I’ve found a lot of relationship with that through my own studies of Tibetan Buddhism. All of us have the seeds of enlightenment or are liberated already, but we need to realize it. We have sort of built up clouds and obscuration to our own divinity and spiritual practice enables us to get in touch with our core being. So the Temples felt like a living being that has many limbs and is potentially active in all Damanhurians. All of their actions are being performed on behalf of the planet and out of reverence and love for nature and our celestial origins, in the hope and a faith that this action will rekindle the hope and faith in humanity at large.

I see Damanhur and the Temples here as a beacon and lighthouse. Through this living presence that Damanhurians have invited into their lives and have become an expression of, they look at different ways, political, ecological and economic; different systems of using creative energy, art energy and take a visionary approach to all these different aspects. If we don’t take the answers already provided for us, what can we do as a people? So the evidence of creative thinking is inspirational, I think, for everyone who looks at Damanhur. They look like they’re having a good time doing it, you know. Not only is this spirituality beautiful but also it has found a way to act through all the different arts, through dance and theatre and performance of all kinds; to costume and fashion and of course all of the stonework and sculpture, painting and glass work. I don’t know anywhere on earth where all of these arts are being practiced in such an integrated fashion. Not that theirs is any kind of ‘cookie cutter’ design element. This coordination of efforts by many independent artists pooling their minds together, expresses what is, I think, humanity’s greatest potential.

Damanhurian interviewer: As a visionary painter, as a visionary artist yourself, do you see any correlation between your own work and that of the work of Damanhurian artists?

Alex Grey: I see a real brother-sisterhood and a great similarity of intention. In our small way, the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors is attempting to also resuscitate or re-align people with their own potential and re-awaken spirit. That is my intent. My intent is not only to make a fantastic or beautiful vision, as wonderful as that might be; I don’t think that is what is called for at this time. All art is useful. I am a lover of arts.

On the other hand, I think that art can be put on a sacred mission at this point, to re-kindle our interconnectedness as a human family and to come to understanding our connectedness with nature. If we don’t re-kindle, re-awaken or awaken a reverence for life, we are in a process of self-destruction as a human race and we are shutting down the web of life by destroying so many species and not caring about the way we interact with our environment. That’s why in the Damanhurian way, the games and the laboratory, all these metaphors for interaction with each other and with the land, and finding ways of working creatively and ecologically, or at least thinking in those ways, points to a sustainable future.

I think we also need art that points in that direction. I loved Warhol, but a Campbell soup can as an icon, to me doesn’t argue for the sustainability of the human enterprise. It’s an adoption and co-option of creative control to the corporation. It doesn’t show the kind of battle that’s going on the the human spirit, which is so well shown in the Hall of Earth where stony personas, our sort of robotic and deadened selves are being defeated by laughter and passion. So those are the elements that I think will sustain us in our creative joy and that’s certainly what Damanhur represents to me.

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