Luis Geraldes Book
Introduction: Art and Introspection
Central to this study is the belief that art, science, and the spiritual do not exist in isolation. Art and science are neither mutually exclusive processes nor contradictory, but each merges into and complements the other. The physical, visible, and material world is an external manifestation of an internal spirit of creativity through an unconscious process. The physical world is a work of art, or an embodiment of myriads of works of art: every atom carries life, spirit, energy and creativity. Einstein commented that the most beautiful thing in life is the mysterious. The great scientist was challenged by a desire to understand the often-unfathomable processes that held the universe together and kept it going, and simultaneously was awed by the unknown.
In the same way, every microorganism and molecule that constitutes a painting is an extension of that same physical reality. What an artist constitutes on canvas is a self-portrait, regardless of the subject of the painting, because the act of painting involves drawing both upon the conscious and the unconscious to encode feelings and forces that for the most part remain invisible.
Art and Autobiography
Thirteen to fifteen billion years ago an explosion was a catalyst that brought into being the universe we now inhabit and the cosmos to which we belong. From the resulting cosmic dust of that initial explosion, humans emerged into who we are today. We are products and fragments of that primordial explosion and a microcosm of those forces. Human biographies, quite often, take the form and embody those cosmic explosions; this is certainly true of my life story.
With few exceptions, people write about the things that matter most to them, and more often than not, autobiography is both the textbook and source of inspiration (Freeman, 1993; Ellis and Flaherty, 1992). The present study is no exception. This study records a personal journey and at the same time is an exercise in introspection. My art emerged from an existential need to reflect on individual being, from birth to adulthood. It evolved from a desire to understand my self in the context of the birth of the cosmos, and the respective rites of passage and comparative events that contribute to human existence. In my art, the birth-growth-death of an individual person is viewed in parallel with the big bang-expansion-and eventual big crunch of the cosmos. Introspection, accompanied by an analytical description of art making, has enabled me to think about the links between the emergence and continuation of the cosmos and myself as individual being and artist of the present.
A Personal Odyssey
As an artist I endeavour to communicate the relationships and mysteries between science and spiritual. I strive to explore the mysteries of the cosmos and to produce works of art that reverberate with current scientific research. My paintings abound with images associated with themes drawn from science, including the big bang, planetary display, stellar and galactic forms, space, time, cells, GM concerns, embryo manipulation, cloning, DNA assertion, mass, and matter, weight, light and sound.
At the same time, however, I am also preoccupied with the spiritual. I strive to explore the spiritual by embracing the values, symbols and metaphors associated with the religious consciousness of ancient esoteric doctrines. I am concerned with communicating to an audience the secret forces of cosmological symbolism, exploring the seeming confrontation between science and spiritual. Within the universal language of semiotics that belongs to a collective unconscious, I explore the cosmic egg, meditation spheres, chakras, mandalas, vessels of reception and other universal symbols that link us to a root system of hidden ideas.
At the centre of this symbolism I am attempting to interpret an understanding of the scientific origin of the world and develop an understanding of the spiritual importance of being. In this way I endeavour to maintain a balance between the visible-physical mode of existence and invisible-spiritual reality. My paintings are an extended reflection about the world above and below us where cosmonauts, astronomers, magicians, mathematicians and artists encounter their sources of knowledge and wisdom, while exploring and discovering the never ending stream of energy in the cosmos to which we belong.
Aims of the Study
At the most general level, the present study is a preliminary excursion into the complexities of our existence.
The dictionary defines ‘science’ as:
The systematic study of the nature and behaviour of the material and physical universe, based on observation, experiment, and measurement, and the formulation of the laws to describe these facts in general terms. (Wilkes, 1989:1042).
In terms of this definition, this project does not pretend to be a scientific work: it is neither an account of experiments performed, nor an endeavour to formulate scientific ‘laws’. It is more a catalogue of my response to science, particularly my reactions to our expanding human understanding of life and the universe facilitated by science. I draw on science in my contemplation and representation of the energy of the cosmos to explain the birth and death of forces, both visible and invisible, that combine to create harmony and balance in human existence (even in contexts where there is disharmony and discord).
Second, it is a record of my own personal journey aimed at better understanding how I view the world and its representations in my art. In this respect, my second aim is to research and investigate the spiritual significance of my painting practice, so as to better understand the interconnections between my own art and an historical and contemporary life context.
A third aim is to develop and refine the content of my practice within the broad definition of communicating the esoteric power of art and its universal message to a broader audience. This is achieved through an examination of the work of other artists as well as my own.
The next section presents an autobiographical sketch to highlight the emotional forces that helped to shape my artistic imagination.