I have a number of strings to my bow as many visitors will be aware. Until recently, my main occupation
at this time is was my PhD research on French author Joséphin Péladan. I maintain a separate website featuring updates from my research and more academic pieces relating to it at www.peladan.net.
When I embarked on my PhD research, one of the elements that attracted me to my chosen topic was the potential for artistic exploration that it offered alongside the scholarly approach, because although I may have spent the last few years exploring (and sometimes making waves) in academia, art has always been my first and one true love. It was in fact due to my desire to learn what I call “the language of symbolism” without being a complete flake, that I embarked on my academic study of esotericism at all. So when I initially wrote my PhD proposal, almost 4 years ago, aside from the research aims that I described, I added the objective of producing a series of work based on Péladan’s esoteric-aesthetic curriculum. Ι have now successfully completed my doctoral studies
I’m reaching the end of my doctoral studies (less than a year to go) and I feel I have a pretty fair grasp of the themes, concepts and ideas involved in Péladan’s philosophy of art, and over the last year or so I’ve begun to work on that series. The works below are the first in what I hope will be quite a fruitful project in a number of ways.
I started off by producing what are essentially illustrations of key concepts in Péladan’s esoteric philosophy and cosmology, using similar symbolic elements to those in use at the end of the 19th century, but interpreted, of course, through my own lens. One thing that I absolutely despise doing, as an artist, is drawing something simple, or copying generic compositions, so I’ve been very conscious of making each work as original and true to my own artistic vision as possible. Each painting or drawing I’ve ever produced tells a story, and I consider an image to be a success (regardless of technical polish) when the image encapsulates the concept, or idea, that I used for inspiration – in essence I see myself as a translator, translating words into pictures by way of a specific symbolic matrix. Therefore, in the images I’ve begun to create, each one is, for me, a direct transference of narrative text into image, reflecting what Péladan considered to be a supremely sacred act: “making the invisible visible” and “giving form to ideas”.
am was honoured to have been asked to participate in the 1st Neo-Symbolist Salon taking place that took place in Madrid in October-November 2013, not only with my artwork, but also with an introductory article to be included in the catalogue, and a lecture on Péladan’s aesthetics via video-link on the closing day. For me this is the ideal scenario; an opportunity to combine my artistic and scholarly pursuits in complete harmony, given that I’ve been sacrificing the one for the other for over ten years, and making myself miserable in the process. Simultaneously, I have been asked was invited by a Greek publisher to write a layperson’s, artistic guide to Péladan, which will also include a number of my own illustrations. So it will be last year it was an exciting, and creative autumn, and the autumn of 2014 looks no less creative, with further opportunities to combine my artistic and academic work. See here and here for details. With these two smaller projects are complete, I will be focusing on finishing my PhD (submission due in Spring 2014), and also on continuing to produce illustrations of his ideas. When all that’s done, Having now completed my PhD, I hope to publish my thesis, and then the fun can start. And by fun, I mean, publishing a more accessible (and gloriously non-academic) work on Péladan, focusing on the art, the symbolism, the ideas, what artists can do with them, and what interest they hold for the viewer or reader. I also hope to organise at least one Neo-Symbolist Salon of my own in honour of Péladan, and to achieve that I will be asking for the help of the esoteric-academic community, but details of that will have to wait a little longer.
Until then…. below you will find the images I
am submitting submitted to the Madrid exhibition, and here you can find a colour adaptation of one of the images…. As always, watch this space for updates!