Enlightenment is an english translation of a Buddhist term, referring to a unique experience which partially or wholly transforms an individual from their previous state. Many people covet this ultimate state of Nirvana, a perfect peace of mind that is free from craving, anger and other afflicting energies. By dedicating their entire life to this ideal of transcending the physical world most of us are unwittingly trapped in, these people are able to evolve into beings who have no need for a tangible existence or experience, moving into a world in which beings of pure energy exist, inhabited by visions of the divine which cannot be comprehended by those of us who remain blinded by our ego.
This world has been tapped by American artist Alex Grey, who expertly paints his psychedelic and spiritual visions of a world that is beautifully indescribable. An avid practitioner of Vajrayana – often referred to as Tantric Buddhism – Grey believes artistic creation has the potential to transcend the limitations of the mind and express the divine spirit within.
“Art induces within the viewer an elevated state, in which spiritual states of being can be attained.”
His method is not all meditation and Buddhist insight however, with one of his most intricate and dark pieces inspired whilst under the influence of the South American psychoactive drug, Ayahuasca. It would appear that a lot of his paintings are influenced by severe drug experiences – just looking at his work can be quite disorienting, as if he is broadcasting his own form of visual LSD.
In addition to psychedelic exploration, Grey Delves deep into the human body with medical precision – painting striking, full scale representations of the various systems within the body, as if he can see straight through the skin. These brilliant reproductions of anatomy are so realistic that one would be forgiven for thinking they are straight from the pages of a medical text book – even if they are oil paintings.
Alex Grey’s world of multi-dimensional gods, humans without skin, and astral projections is a world that can seem a bit daunting at first, but the beauty and technical ability shown by this artistic master is so intense that you will soon find yourself lost in his realm. After spending time immersed in the artwork of Alex Grey, you feel free of your worldly constraints and question your own reality as you feel well on your way to Nirvana.
Words: Darcy J