Fall 2004



      The VISIONARY REVUE is an on-going initiative to mark out and define Visionary art. In this issue, we present Nicholas Kalmakoff 'the Forgotten Visionary', whose life and art have earned him belated recognition as the 'proto-Visionary of the 20th century'.
      Though Russian, Kalmakoff lived the better part of his life in Paris, and was only saved from total obscurity when two discerning collectors rediscovered his works in a French flea market a few decades ago...
      This naturally leads us to Part I of an in-depth article on 'Visionary Art in France'. Unfortunately, in Paris as elsewhere, Visionary Art often leads a marginal existence. Hopefully this article will introduce contemporary French Visionaries to a broader audience, and save them from the obscurity that was otherwise slated to Kalmakoff...
      An exlusive interview with Ernst Fuchs provides an unending series of insights from the master Visionary of Vienna: the inspiration for his works, his rediscovery of the Mischtechnik, and the future of Visionary art. 'Ernst Fuchs Speaks'...
      It was with great sorrow that artists world-wide witnessed the passing of Mati Klarwein on the 7th of March 2002. His work explored an unusual number of hallucinatory states and translated them so successfully into painted imagery that Klarwein may be accredited with the invention of a new visual vocabulary. Tributes from Robert Venosa and Alex Grey round out a presentation of his life which offers images and insights from the artist himself. 'Mati Klarwein Remembered'.
      Several quotations from Hervé Sérane in the article 'Visionary Art in France' make it clear that Visionary Art is not Modernist or even Post-Modernist; it is Anti-Modernist. This is because Modern Art is, by definition, 'à la mode' - trendy, fashionable and 'of the times'. Meanwhile, Visionary Art echoes back and forward through the epochs and strives to be eternally relevant.
      Continuing along this line of thought, I wish to end this editorial with a few random remarks. These notes offer a series of comparisons to show how Visionary art is the antithesis of Modern Art.



- Confronted by modern technology, such as photography, Modern Art retreats from accurate representation, giving rise successively to Impressionism, Expressionism, New Objectivity, Constructivism, Abstract art, Abstract Expressionism, Conceptualism, Installations, Performance art etc. Finally, it surrenders itself completely to photography.



- Confronted by modern technology, such as photography, Visionary Art incorporates these ways of seeing into painting (see Pierre Peyrolle in 'Visionary Art in France') and even surpasses them through hyper-realist painting (see 'Mati Klarwein Remembered'). While doing all this, Visionary art also attempts to accurately reproduce what no photograph can: dreams, hallucinogenic visions, psychedelic states etc.

- Claiming that representational or figurative art 'has been exhausted', Modern Art turns away from tradition, history, and technique in an attempt to find 'new means of expression'. Experimental art and the 'avant garde' emerges, seeking to provoke a blasé audience through shock tactics (an inverted crucifix in a bucket of urine, etc).


- Through alternative states of consciousness, the Visionary artist finds alternative ways of perceiving traditional works of art. Many unexpected messages (previously hidden or 'unseen') now emerge, expanding our 'narrow, all too narrow' perception of art history. The Visionary artist attempts to integrate this renewed vision of the past into all future works.

- By questioniong the medium of painting itself, Modern Art brings the painterly medium into the foreground of our vision: brushstrokes, 'pointillisme', the 'material' of the paint, silkscreen dots, 'drip painting', line painting, flatness, etc. Gradually, the image disappears, and the viewer is left staring only at the paint...


- For the Visionary artist, the canvas is like a window onto another world. He does not admire the window itself, or call attention to the quality of its glass. He makes the medium as transparent as possible, so that the image may be 'im-mediately' presented to the viewer. He tries to present the original vision as authentically as possible.

- Writing plays a critical role, independent of painting itself. It remains in the hands of critics and gallerists as a powerful means of persuasion (see Tom Wolfe's The Painted Word). The artist's title offers us nothing ('Untitled' No. 7) and the critical text is written to support or justify the existence of the work.


- Writing has a separate autonomous existence for both artist and critic. The artist's title enters into a poetic relationship with the image and the critical text explores in words the same elusive subject that the painting explores in images: dreams, visions, hallucinations.

- The cultural value of Modern Art is directly linked its financial and investment value. It is a commodity subject to financial speculation, media manipulation and power politics. Its cultural value rises and falls in relation to its market value. Our perception of the work alters as a result of its latest auction price (unfortunate examples: Van Gogh or Picasso).


- Visionary Art leads an outsider or marginal existence. The spirit-quest of most artists precludes them from an overwhelming interest in the material value of their work. The artists are too busy exploring and painting the inner realms to promote their art as a commodity (attend gallery openings, 'make contacts' etc). The painting remains a work of art.

- Modern Art is linked to the Gallery system. The Gallerist's role consists of narrowing and focussing our vision onto a particular fashion item or speculation commodity - so as to increase commission (usually 50% of the sale price). The works are then purchased by state-run museums (power politics) which keep them in the basement, or by collectors who put them in storage (why did Paco Rabanne recently lose a large part of its collection from a fire in a warehouse?).


- Visionary Art is linked to the internet. Rather than conveying the painting's 'painterly qualities', the internet im-mediately presents the image. The web allows the viewer free access to the artist's vision and even offers direct communication with the artist himself. The gallerist, as intermediary and spokesman, becomes obsolete. And the gallerist's role is now subsumed by autonomous artists and collectors with independent thinking and breadth of vision.

      With the end of the 20th century we have hopefully witnessed the end of Modernism and the long shadow it has cast over our souls. We are witnessing the beginning of, not only a new century, but a new epoch or millennium.
      For the better part of its history, in both the Occident and the Orient, art has subsumed itself to the more sacred purpose of bringing the Holy before our eyes and into our hearts. With the turning of Time's wheel, we pray that art may resume its ancient and eternal role once more:

to be revelatory...

L. Caruana
Paris, August 2004