..: A First for Visionary Art :..
..: A New Academy Opens its Doors in Vienna :..
“Located in the heart of Vienna, across from the Hofburg Palace, The Vienna Academy of Visionary Art revives classical techniques of painting while pursuing art as the expression of beauty, spirit and vision. Opening its doors in September of 2013, this English-speaking institution promotes individual creativity through the pursuit of Visionary Art. At the heart of its program is the painter’s quest for Original Vision, expressed in a unique and refined manner.” – Laurence Caruana, Academy Director
A SolPurpose Exclusive by Laurence Caruana, Vienna Academy Director
The Vienna Academy of Visionary Art offers a safe and inspiring environment for the unfolding of vision. Already, enough students have been drawn to our unique program and registered that the project has a green light and will commence this September. Thanks to the immense talent of our faculty, these artists’ individual creativity will be encouraged, and the painterly practice of the Mischtechnik be transmitted, via the time-honored traditions of the Academy, Master’s Studio, and Guild.
The impetus to create the Academy occurred in the summer of 2012, during the fifth Visions in the Mischtechnik Seminar in Italy. Over the course of three weeks, I felt an increasing sensation of harmony… of absolute attunement with what I was doing. As an artist, I usually experienced that before the easel – the oneness with divinity, concentrating yet at ease with the Overmind in myself. But, during the seminar’s closing circle, the feeling of sacred oneness was overwhelming. I was being called. Not directly. Not all at once. But the sense of ‘SolPurpose’ remained, awaiting to be integrated…
I felt a certain resistance to the higher forces at work in me. As an artist, I wasn’t ready for the sacrifice – the time dedicated to teaching others, rather than focussing on my own art. But, the ego is like that – clinging onto fear, restraining one’s self from true growth, which can only come about through surrender, trust and letting go. The moment I let go, the Academy was born.
That moment of surrender in me (which, from the outside, looked like a decision) immediately rippled through my network of closest allies. We were all so closely linked – independent, yet connected – that a whole series of eventualities occurred, each transpiring like a minor miracle. The ten artists with whom I felt the closest kinship – Kuba Ambrose, Daniel Mirante, Maura Holden and Amanda Sage among them – immediately committed their time and talents, while opening up their own networks to the Academy idea.
Through Amanda Sage, the Academy found a potential home, and through the efforts of Erich Peischl, it is now actually located in Vienna’s beautiful Palais Palffy, with the Master’s Studio of Ernst Fuchs and The International Phantasten Museum right next door.
Through Art Spirit Now , the Academy teachers David Heskin and Aloria Weaver have organized an amazing event (The Visionary Art & Culture Symposium in Boulder, Colorado), with artists and musicians generously contributing their talents to announce the Academy in Colorado that took place on May 23rd & 25th 2013.
Through CoSM, the Academy board directors Alex and Allyson Grey have created an evening for Maura Holden and myself to present The Vienna Academy in New York (Visionary Salon at CoSM, June 8th, 2013). And SolPurpose, undergoing its own glorious transformation, has featured our launch on its new site. The mobilization of creative forces is increasing, and I’m in awe of the creative sharing and support.
..: EXPLORING VISION :..
But – a Visionary Art Academy? At first glance, this seems to be a contradiction in terms. How can something so vibrant, alternative and alive as Visionary Art become fixed and institutionalized into an Academy? A close look at Visionary Art today will reveal that these artists – in contrast to the prevailing attitude of Contemporary Art – willfully embrace tradition, practice and technique, especially when these are spiritually grounded. Painting is a yoga, a spiritual practice worthy of daily exercise and deep personal commitment.
The visionary artists I know immerse themselves willfully in ancient traditions, researching arcane symbologies, world mythologies and sacred geometries to fully express the interconnected nature of all beings. As part of an archaic revival, we equally embrace new technologies and time-honored techniques. While creating art with trust, intuition and an open heart, we are not afraid of tribal wisdom, intelligence, and the more ancient sense of gnosis.
The Academy was co-founded by ‘the Godfather’ of Visionary Art, Ernst Fuchs, together with a circle of ten artists who form The Visionary Guild – a name carefully chosen to express our deep respect for the artists’ associations of old. Having worked and apprenticed with Fuchs, we believe in the direct transmission of craft – from master to apprentice – without forgetting the more subtle forms of ‘vision-transmission’ that go along with it.
The ten artists of the Guild – five men and five women – form the faculty through which the Academy’s core courses are developed and taught. The Guild also shares a studio space so that, by working side-by-side, we may teach and learn from each other. This attitude extends to our students, who teach at least two classes each trimester, sharing their researches into forgotten cultures and techniques. Teachers and students work together, synergistically exploring and co-creating our new visual language (thus instituting the time-honored practice of tribal wisdom).
As an Academy, we seek to actively recover and revive those painterly secrets which I have termed Sacred Codes (the title of my forthcoming book) – the invisible lines that add harmony and unity to a work, such as sacred geometry, armature, proportion, perspective and especially the graceful design of a figure, whether animal, plant or human. Through daily practice, working from the live model but also copying statuary from all cultures (Hindu, Buddhist, Egyptian, Mayan), we seek out the stylistic line characteristic of sacred art – ‘the hieratic style’ manifest in all holy and sacramental works. (Hence our motto: Ad Sacrum, Toward the Sacred).
But, as visionary artists, we also seek to explore the realms of space and time beyond mundane perception: perspectives may curve, coalesce or expand into multiple dimensions; figures may flatten out, become squared (as with Mayan art) or interweave with invisible lines of armature; energy may emerge, materialize and become visible, as bands of spectral light or vibrating lines of color; historical styles may collide, their symbols combine, their cultures unite. Rather than rejecting, as the Modernists did, the rules of Western art, we seek to recover, consolidate and expand them, while integrating in our art the Sacred Codes of ancient, tribal and eastern cultures. In the New Sacred Art, all cultures are one, geographically and historically.
During our three year Diploma programme, students progress from apprentices to journeymen to masters. At the end of each year, professionals in the arts share their knowledge of sales, communication and promotion, while the students prepare their press kits and publicity for the year-end exhibition of their paintings. In the third year, they also perform a three week internship in the studio of a master (Alex and Allyson Grey and Martina Hoffmann, among them) to experience directly the artist’s daily rhythm and profession. Through our printing facilities, the students also participate in the emerging market of limited edition high quality reproductions.
As the popularity of Visionary Art expands year by year, we are poised to become active partners in this co-creative enterprise, simultaneously encouraging and preparing the next generation of visionary artists. As emissaries of the light, artists must be armed with the proper knowledge and skill, not just to survive, but thrive in a world of change, possible disaster and new awakenings.