Alchemy, Mysticism, Mythology: Atlantean Years, paintings by the artist Gregg Simpson. Enjoy this amazing artwork, Yareah Magazine readers!
This exhibition of paintings and collages is called the Atlantean Years: 1970 to 1975 When I completed these works, I was studying subjects such as alchemy, mysticism, the occult, and mythology. I was particularly interested in the legend of Atlantis, which parallels stories of the Garden of Eden, the Elysian Fields, and the Garden of the Hesperides. Each of these symbolic stories deals with the evolution of human consciousness and represents the main source of the Western occult tradition.
I was also starting to connect at this time with the international surrealist movement that was based in Paris. My direction since the end of the 1960’s had been towards a sort of neo-Symbolism, out of which I would create my own brand of ‘occult surrealism’
This approach also echoed what the founder of the movement, André Breton, called for in the Second Surrealist Manifesto. In Paris, two of Breton’s colleagues, José Pierre and Sarane Alexandrian, published many of these work in books, academic studies and periodicals.
In 1972, I developed the motif of the horned helmet worn by figure in the painting from 1971, The Adept (oil, 1971). In many cultures, this motif symbolized the wisdom of the ancients. Examples include the Aurignacian cult of the bull, the mythologies of the Mediterranean, and symbolic systems within the Amerindian cultures and those of Africa and Melanesia.
In Persian Gulf (oil on canvas, 1972), I fused this symbolism with the world of the ‘fantastic’ in the form of a biomorphic shape, a creature from my imagination who nestled against a crescent shaped form that would have been familiar in Minoan Crete.
A further development took place in Picnic in Hell (oil on canvas, 1972), which was the beginning of the ‘claw series’, in which I continued to explore the theme of the survival of ancient forces lurking beneath the surface of the material world.
Works like Caravanserai, Wanderers, Sahara, Jou Jouka, Visitation (all acrylic on shaped canvases from 1973) and The New Age (1974) also hint at exotic, southern sources such as the tribal music of the Moroccan Berbers and the survival of the cult of Pan in the far reaches of the Rif mountains.
The Metaphysical Interiors of 1974-1975 were primarily influenced by my renewed interest in the Italian Metaphysical. This series provided me with yet another door into the remote past.
Beginning in 1975, I began to add semi-automatic traceries to animate the superstructures that contained them. This style is evident in Ancestral Memory (acrylic on canvas, 1975) and especially The Genagual (acrylic on canvas, 1975). The latter painting combines the ‘genetic’ with the ‘nagual’, which is the name for unknown powers associated with the brujos or medicine men of Mexico.
In the collages, I use humour in works such as Saved at Last (1972)and Sea Story (1973) in which the last remnants of Atlantis float by and in Ragnarok (1974) that contains hints of an ancient cataclysm. The exhibition opens at the Museo Granell, Santiago de Compostela, May 30th.