Alex Grey: Why Visionary Art Matters

alex grey burning manAlex Grey is probably the world’s best-known “visionary” artist. He is a fixture on the American scene, with live painting at festivals and many trippers liking to wear his vibrant, complex, beautiful patterns. His paintings portray multiple dimensions of reality. He calls himself a mystic artist, drawing inspiration from the sacred divine and using ayahuasca to connect with it like a shaman. He and his wife Allyson founded the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, in New York.

Here is a talk that Alex gave at Burning Man in 2012, where he was painting at Fractal Nation.

Perhaps as an indication of their mystic power, the day before leaving for Israel for their first trip to the Holy Lands, where Alex was invited to paint the wailing wall in Jerusalem, they found this leaf on their deck at the CoSM:

alex grey leaf-768x1024

From the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, “a womb for the gestation of the awakening of the spirit”:

Alex Grey is best known for his paintings which portray multiple dimensions of reality, interweaving biological anatomy with psychic and spiritual energies. Grey’s visual meditation on the nature of life and consciousness, the subject of his art, is contained in five books. His two monographs, Sacred Mirrors andTransfigurations, follow the history of Grey’s artistic life. The Mission of Art and Art Psalmsreflect on art as a spiritual practice. The book,CoSM, co-authored with Allyson Grey, provides a guided tour of the New York City installation of the the Sacred Mirrors collection. Grey’s world-renowned career includes exhibitions and keynote addresses from Basel to Tokyo to Sao Paulo, and features on the Discovery Channel, the CBC, in Newsweek and Time Magazines. Grey’s art has been used on albums for the multi-platinum bands Nirvana, Beastie Boys, Tool, and String Cheese Incident. Grey’s most outstanding and widely appreciated works of transformative art were exhibited for five years in the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors in New York City.

A selection of Alex Grey’s art can be viewed online in the Alex Grey Gallery.

Learn more about Alex Grey by reading his BiographyBibliography, or Exhibitions.

In 1989, he painted an amazing work called “Gaia”. It stands alone as one of Alex’s greatest masterpieces, but it contains an interesting and magical story.

alex grey gaia

The painting depicts a clash of two worlds, the industrial world versus the paradise of the Earth. Gaia is the Earth Mother. In the Sixties, while working for NASA on the Mars program, James Lovelock created both the microwave oven and “the Gaia hypothesis”: the idea that the earth is a single, sentient, super-organism, and we are all subspecies within it. This painting references the Tree of Life, known as the Yggdrasil in Norse mythology.

You can see two “twin” towers in the right hand side, with the smoke and flames, looking remarkably like New York’s World Trade Center. But, look closer. Near the base of the tree on that side, you can see three small figures walking – they look remarkably like Bush in a suit, a “dick” scarab, and a terrorist.

gaigzoomed in

From AboveTopSecret:

On the left side of the tree, you will notice animals, grass, nature, and beauty. On the right, you will notice the branches on fire, the breasts of the tree connected to power lines, and what looks like a polluted, industrial area. 

Of course, there is an immense amount of detail in this painting but there are a few things in particular I’d like to pay attention to. Keep in mind that this was painted in the year 1989, 12 years before the attacks of 9/11.  

Not too hard to notice, but in the background, you see the very obvious WTC buildings and two airplanes flying over. Hmm. 

Next, it may be a little hard to see and it is of course, all up to how you perceive this image. What many have agreed on before is that on the base of the tree on the right side, you see three very distinct figures. One, on the far right, is a giant phallic object with devil horns and what look like insect type arms. In the middle, a man dressed in a suit with what looks like grey/white hair. On the left of that man is another man. To me, looks somewhat like a typical depiction of a terrorist with a gun in his hands. 

Many have speculated that the phallic object to the right of the character in the middle (who many have speculated to look like George Bush) depicts Dick Cheney. Of course, George Bush and Dick Cheney have been part of the 9/11 controversy since it began. Them being next to a character that looks like a terrorist is quite odd, especially with the towers and planes in the background…

"Theologue" by Alex Grey

“Theologue” by Alex Grey

…You may not know but the day before 9/11 there was a hurricane headed on a path straight for NYC. Look in the sky, not only will you see 2 planes but above that there is an all-seeing eye, a hurricane and a satellite. There’s also the 4 smokestacks representing 4 plane crashes. 
The figure next to George Bush might be a more literal interpretation (he said it himself) – Dick Cheney i.e., Darth Cheney who I believe to be a very evil man wearing horns.
You have branches of the tree on fire with people falling as in the twin towers also.

…to me this reads almost like a timeline from left to right. 

Of course you have the Earth in all it’s natural beauty before we began to destroy it. Then, moving further to the right you have the hand with the eye, possibly representing our enlightenment, followed by a man that I would interpret as Adam. 

Next we have Buddha in the center of the tree, followed by what many feel is George Bush, then the twin towers with the two airplanes. Now the four smokestacks could represent the four plane crashes as a poster above me stated, or it could represent the further destruction of our environment and global warming. 

The fact that the “timeline” ends with a nuclear reactor on the far right is what concerns me. Any help with this interpretation would be greatly appreciated. 

ETA: I can’t get this predictive timeline theory out of my head. To the left of the twin towers, which we obviously know is the year 2001, is the ISS, which was launched in 1998

Further, Saturn is located just to the right of the twin towers. Cassini reached Saturn in 2005. Now, further down the timeline we have what appears to be a meteor shower. I am going to go out on a limb and assume this could indicate the increase in huge meteor sightings over the past few years.

Then, of course, we have what could be Mars, or maybe even a brown dwarf. I’m going with Mars. Could we expect a major announcement in the near future that they have undeniable proof that life did exist on Mars at some time? 

He painted the painting the day after their daughter was born. Here’s Alex discussing the painting from 0:37…

Alex also discusses DMT and painting on the Joe Rogan show, a fascinating interview where Alex displays an extraordinary knowledge of symbology and religious history. He says coyotes are the shamans, if you ask me he’s the big dog. Alex’s bit starts about 14:00 and goes for hours, I recommend keep watching to the Winnie the Pooh for “the next big thing” (especially if your name is Snorky!), after that the “Sorcerer of Trois Freres” looks remarkably like our precious Man…16,000 years old. I love Alex’s point about the stability of the goddess-worshipping cultures.

Here’s Alex on ayahuasca:

The Chapel of Sacred Mirrors:

Check out Alex’s book, Net of Being


7 comments on “Alex Grey: Why Visionary Art Matters

  1. I think that looks more like Eve instead of Buddha. The figure appears to have breasts and holding an infant. There is also a snake below… maybe symbolizing the serpent who encouraged her to eat from the tree of life/knowledge.

  2. Pingback: DMT-LALEO-K9-ER | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  3. So the blog just posted a long story kissing Alex Grey’s ass. He charged his camp $10,000 dollars to attend Burning Man in 2012. Maybe I’ll start selling t-shirts at BRC next year since it’s ok to make money there. Maybe I can pay for my trip.

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