Alchemy, Mysticism, Mythology: Atlantean Years, paintings by Gregg Simpson

Alchemy, Mysticism, Mythology: Atlantean Years, paintings by Gregg Simpson

Alchemy, Mysticism, Mythology: Atlantean Years, paintings by the artist Gregg Simpson. Enjoy this amazing artwork, Yareah Magazine readers!

Alchemy, Mysticism, Mythology: Atlantean Years, paintings by Gregg Simpson

The Adept by Gregg Simpson

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’

Alchemy, Mysticism, Mythology: Atlantean Years, paintings by Gregg Simpson

Kingdom of Poseidon by Gregg Simpson

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.

Alchemy, Mysticism, Mythology: Atlantean Years, paintings by Gregg Simpson

Visitation by Gregg Simpson

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.

Alchemy, Mysticism, Mythology: Atlantean Years, paintings by Gregg Simpson

The Genagual by Gregg Simpson

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.

Alchemy, Mysticism, Mythology: Atlantean Years, paintings by Gregg Simpson

Picnic in Hell and Persian Gulf (installation at the Regional Museum in Beja Portugal) by Gregg Simpson

View Comments (2)
  • wonderful to read of such an intriguing artist and his work –

  • Powerful work has images that will never be dated. Gregg Simpson has created an imaginary world of universal richness and depth.


Born in Ottawa, Canada in 1947, Bowen Island artist, Gregg Simpson, has been active in visual art since the mid-1960s. His work has been exhibited in museums and galleries in Canada, the U.S., France, Italy, Austria, Spain, Portugal, Malaysia, and South America and is included in over 100 private and public collections in Europe, Asia, North and South America. Simpson’s work has been published in several art journals and history books and studied at the Sorbonne in Paris, the Université Rabelais de Tours, France and the Accademia Tiberina in Rome. Simpson exhibited in Tuscany at the Fortezza di Montalcino, a 14th Century castle which was the subject of a BRAVO TV documentary broadcast across Canada since 2003, entitled A New Arcadia, The Art of Gregg Simpson. Curator Nicole Donnely wrote of his recent, more abstract works: Referencing organic shapes, his oil and acrylic paintings on canvas and paper expertly utilize the single gesture to represent an entire form, delicately balancing soft effusions of colour against the frenetic energy of the mark. The resulting image possesses a surge of movement that suggests the unearthly, despite the hues which tie it inextricably to the terrestrial. Simpson’s paintings flux between the solid, rooted world and the ethereal.

More in Arts

Matt Keegan, Alphabet Soup (Blocked #6), 2016, Monoprint, 66 x 44 in; 167.6 x 111.8 cm

San Francisco Exhibitions. Altman Siegel. In search of Vedaland: September 8 – October 1

Yareah MagazineSeptember 3, 2016
Mailroom Tracking Excellence Award

Tracking Excellence Award For University OF The Arts London

Yareah MagazineSeptember 2, 2016
Francesca Quintano. Heterogeneous Locus. 60x48. Oil on Canvas

Los Angeles Exhibitions. DAC Gallery

Yareah MagazineJune 21, 2016
Ringling International Arts Festival

Sarasota Bay. Ringling International Arts Festival

Yareah MagazineMay 26, 2016
© Jeffrey Henson-Scales Young Man In Plaid, NYC, 1991, courtesy of the artist

Dandyism and Black Masculinity at The Photographers’ Gallery

Yareah MagazineMay 26, 2016

Elton John has chosen Sotheby’s France to sell a contemporary art work from his collection

Yareah MagazineMay 24, 2016

Yareah Magazine

Art is Everywhere and Up to You.

About Us - Press Kit - Contact Us

YM on Twitter

Top Posts & Pages

Yareah® Magazine is a Registered Trademark in the United States