Saturday, September 14, 2013

Visionary art as an antidote to corporate fascism

Galactic Alignment by Andréa Balt

The world appears to teeter once again on the brink of all-out war, as criminal regimes with covert links to oil giants, drug cartels, vice syndicates, mercenary armies and terrorist cells attempt to shock and awe the masses into docile submission to their totalitarian dictates.

Religious fanaticism, spurred on by vested interests with divisive survival strategies, rears it ugly head whenever the corrupt status quo feels threatened by increasingly vociferous demands for radical reform.

At apocalyptic times such as this, the soul finds refuge and revitalization in magical epiphanies of the unfettered imagination as expressed through visionary art.

Chêne (oak) by Gaëlle Van Nah Chong (6.7" X 7.9", Graphite on paper, 2013)

Notre-Dame de McFarlane by Gaëlle Van Nah Chong
(15.7" X 11.8" Graphite on paper, 2013)
They have always been with us, these conjurers of phantasmagoric landscapes who speak directly to the innermost cores of our being, bypassing our nitpicking intellects. 

A close encounter with such imagery restores our primordial memory of authentic freedom, of vistas undefined and unconfined by artificial boundaries and obstacles. 

They remind us who we really are, beyond outward appearances, beyond bureaucratic pigeonholes, beyond our own fears and fleshly limitations. It is the visionary artist we must thank for reconnecting us with our inner beings where our humanity is most deeply rooted.

Throughout the centuries, they have spoken to us from their own mysterious depths, with voices intimate and introvert, of the soul’s adventures in dimensions far subtler than consensus reality. Visionaries like Hieronymus Bosch, William Blake, M.C. Escher, Salvador Dali, Alex Grey, Abdul Mati Klarwein – who share an artistic lineage with magical realists like Dante Alighieri, Jorge Luis Borges, Lewis Carroll, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Isabel Allende. Their work serves an entirely therapeutic purpose, resensitizing and reintegrating our battered psyches, affording us a secure hideaway from the ruinous violence of outer realms ravaged by the territorial disputes of warlords and would-be world conquerors.

La Désalpe by Gaëlle Van Nah Chong (11.8" X 30", Graphite on paper, 2013)

It gladdens my heart to witness the continuance of this essential therapeutic service as signified by the coming together of three young visionary artists who, in expressing their own internal dreamscapes, remind us where our true freedom dwells – in the secret depths of our own unique individuality.

Melissa Lin, Pereira Irving Paul and Gaëlle Chong… thank you for freely sharing with us the astounding authenticity, veracity and raw power of your extraordinary inner visions.

Antares Maitreya
Magick River
1 September 2013

Oily Teh O Ais: 3 Person Show with Melissa Lin,
Pereira Irving Paul & Gaëlle Van Nah Chong
7 - 21 September 2013
 @ LostGens'


It’s been raining cats and dogs for weeks now. These afternoon showers come unannounced but not unexpected. Though it puts a damper on our daily wheeling and dealing, it should be seen as a much needed respite from all the brouhaha generated during the country’s 13th general election and its bitter aftermath just a few months ago. 

Transformation of the child after cosmic poisoning
by Pereira Irving Paul (11.7" X 8.3",
Pen & acrylic on paper, 2011)
For many of the everyday people, the business of life and making a living goes on as usual. They’ve come to accept with resignation that the more things change, the more they remain the same. “Same shit, different day” as they say. Come Monday mornings, as they commute by trains or buses packed like sardines (or KFC poultry) to the daily grind, they turn off their anger and tune out their resentment with the major and petty transgressions both real and imaginary and go through the motions till payday. That’s when they put away their ‘salarymen’ attire, gingerly don their branded mall worshipper’s costume and proceed to engage recklessly in retail therapy. And everything turns out fine in the end... as usual.

Yet, there are those who do not rest easy even though it is so much easier to uncritically adopt a herd mentality to adapt to the workings of conventional society. They refuse to subscribe to a standardized way of living prescribed for them via enculturation, education or indoctrination. These ‘misfits’ and ‘outsiders’ hold stubbornly to their own dreams and beliefs that other, more authentic and spontaneous ways of existing are possible besides the roles/lifestyles promoted by consumerism, propagated by jingoism or sanctified by religious fundamentalism. They remain true to their personal convictions against the dilution of their individuality and the commodification of life in general by the machinations of the establishment (usually in complicity with regimes, those voted to power or those that seized it.)   

Bridal deceleration and mind control
by Pereira Irving Paul (11.7" X 8.3",
Ink & acrylic on paper, 2011)
Perhaps it is from this context that the exhibition ‘OTOA’ can be understood and appreciated. Featuring works by Pereira Irving Paul, Gaëlle Chong and Melissa Lin, ‘OTOA’ (the title being a private joke between Melissa and Gaëlle) is a three-person exhibition at LostGens’ latest venue - located at 8C Jalan Panggong in KL’s infamous Chinatown, which serves as an extension of its residency program. 

Pereira Irving Paul (36) is a full-time multidisciplinary artist, independent curator and occultist currently based in Singapore whose works are guided by western and eastern magickal traditions. He specializes in Tarot and energy healing. 

32-year old  Gaëlle Chong hails from Lamboing, Switzerland. She is also a self-taught whose works are rich with mythical, archetypal symbols and imageries. She is a full-time artist based in Kuala Lumpur. 

Completing the trinity of this three-person exhibition is Melissa Lin Shi Min (31) or Mel as her friends calls her. Born in the state of Johor, Mel studied literature formally and later enrolled in an art academy in the Netherlands but has switched to astrology instead. She is as a full-time artist and certified astrologer (having obtained her certificate of graduation from the Nightlight Astrology School a couple of years ago) and is currently based in KL. She continues to practice and take advanced classes with her mentor, the writer and astrologer Adam Elenbaas.

John, dealing with the spirits from CCLAON by Pereira Irving Paul
(8.3" X 11.7",  Pen & correction fluid on paper)

The transfiguration of CCLAON
by Pereira Irving Paul (11.7" X 8.3",
Pen on paper, 2011)
This exhibition could have been like any of the many weekly showcases of new works by upcoming, mid career or veteran artists in the Klang Valley; nevertheless what sets ‘OTOA’ apart from the rest is the unconventional subject matter. These are not the predictable outputs of academically trained visual art practitioners, whose objectives are mostly commercial. 

Rather the artists of ‘OTOA’ belong to that small minority of creative individuals who, unshackled from the tyranny of conventional society’s regulations and expectations, dare to tap directly into that unfiltered wellspring of the universal via the unconscious, inspired and alchemical, to explore the many parallel universes, realities and possibilities beyond the fossilized versions zealously maintained by institutions, organizations and the ruling classes. And to discover what it means to be a conscious and individuated human being living in a society of the spectacle.  

Moreover, ‘OTOA’ comes at time when there is a discernible feeling of lethargy in the local art scene, a feeling of pointlessness and apathy towards all the banal, formulaic and generic looking works circulating around the galleries in the city. With so much sheen, shenanigans and vacuity masquerading as visual or performance Art, it is getting harder these days to penetrate the hype (or spectacle) and come across artists who are brave and willing to express (or rather expose) themselves in visual vernaculars that are deceptively unassuming, idiosyncratic  but accessible enough to be understood. There is much food for thought here, way more enriching than all the expensive aesthetic candy that is being sold in the private showrooms for the ‘loaded’ and ‘cultured.’ 

Ten sacred mystery gates of CCLAON
by Pereira Irving Paul (11.7" X 8.3",
Ink & acrylic on paper, 2011)
Without the profit motive, hidden agendas or obligations, they came together in a spirit of camaraderie and kinship, each bringing something discovered or drawn from their ‘night journeys’ to this exhibition. Their works embody a little bit of magick, mystery and madness, elements that were familiar to our primordial selves before it was suppressed or exorcised in preparation for our (forced) entry into society as functional, efficient and obedient workers/consumers by our guardians, teacher and leaders. This they have done successfully with coercion, alternating between promises of remuneration and threats of punishment. 

With the ‘spirit’ driven out from the flesh, once hardened, we are ready to become the nuts, bolts and cogs that form the ruling classes’ means of production or their instruments of destruction. This dehumanizing process can also be detected in our surrounding environment which was designed to suppress the subjective and spontaneous, and aggressively induces us to see the world objectively in only blacks and whites, namely yes or no, profit or loss, us or them, left or right. It encourages us to become more and more like the electrical contraptions or electronic gadgets we operate, use and enjoy; one-dimensional and manageable with the turn of a key, swipe of a finger, flip of the switch or push of a button. 

Volpocalypse by Pereira Irving Paul (16.5" X 23.4", Mixed media on paper, 2013)

Psychiatry Sucks by  Gaëlle Chong
(10.6" X 5.9", Oil pastel on paper, 2013)
The discontent and alienation are real and natural reactions to the stultifying conditions imposed upon us. Our unconscious mind seeks to communicate with us, to warn us of the imbalances in our lives by presenting signs, symbols or symptoms through our dreams, slips of tongue, or susceptibility to certain diseases.   Can the artists’ non-objective subject matter (and the way they live their lives) be read as a conscious but subtle objection to the process of objectification of life? Perhaps.  

Hopefully it is evident from their thoughts in the following interview. Will their works be able to stir, resonate with something within us that the system has not managed to extinguish completely and inspire us to question the validity of the ‘reality’ sold to us, or at least to reconsider the many life-affirming choices previously denied us?  That will depend on whether we are prepared to face the truth about our existence. A life which has been comfortably boxed in within these four walls made up of denials, subterfuges, prejudices, and false impressions.  If we are able to push the boundaries of our comfort zone and to peek or to slip through when the cracks appear, we have given ourselves a chance to step out of a long dark shadow cast over our lives, and to finally begin that search for our rightful place in the sun.  

“Under the paving stones, the beach!”

T.S. HON interviews the three artists of OTOA

T.S.HON: When did your passion in art begin and who or what was your earliest influence(s) -visual arts, music, literature?

Pereira Irving Paul:  I think what came first to me, what is more important than a passion for art is a passion for imaginative fantasy. I think that's the biggest factor that makes me who I am today. Art, music, writing, magick, are just vehicles that lead imagination into reality, making Imagination real is my true inspiration and passion I would say. 

I started doodling and writing stories from as young as 10 but spent more time in my head with imaginary friends and places and that is still true for me today, at 36 years of age. I truly started art making in 2008, when I started working as a Tarot card reader. The archetypes opened something up in me and all these visions started pouring out proper. So in a way, Tarot has been a major influence in terms of how its energy and magickal mystery affects me to create. 

Flight over Eradon by Pereira Irving Paul (16.5" X 23.4", Mixed media on paper, 2013)

TSH: What was the impact of these influences? 

PIP:  The mystery of Imagination has helped me build a strong 'interior universe' which is so critical to my creation and magickal process that it cannot be separated.

There's a term called ‘Paracosm,’ a fully developed interior world that began growing in early childhood. This universe is populated with its own denizens, logic, language, philosophy and life. This is where I live from and express myself artistically and magickally. My imagination is always evolving, becoming a source of greater power every day and becoming more alive to a point where I think it is now a kind of Guiding Spirit that I’m in contact with. It informs me and instructs me on my creative processes, it wants to come out and make contact with this world. 

And there the vision saw me but mine eyes were closed by Pereira Irving Paul
(8.3" X 11.7", Pen & acrylic on paper, 2011)

TSH: Who are your favorite artist(s), author(s)?

PIP:  I'm largely influenced by the world of H.P Lovecraft as an author. Artistwise, I respond to and identify very well with Nathan Menglesis  for some reason even though his themes aren't exactly in line with mine, but his style, the mess, the dirty look, the intensity, I love it. 

TSH: What are your current concerns and how are the images you've produced able to communicate your thoughts? 

Negotiation of the 4 worlds by Pereira Irving Paul
(23.4" X 16.5", Mixed media on paper, 2013)
PIP:  Right now, my main mission is to translate occult extraterrestrial technologies and philosophies into something people can engage with through my writing, visual art, spoken word, film and sound. Each form or medium plays a part in creating the 'total work of art' or Gesamtkunstwerk

Writing/poetry/spoken word is, as much as possible, the 'explanatory' element, the form of expression that tries to convey the sense of things, using language, to give certain meaning to feelings and energies I’m trying to convey. Sound and Vision are the instinctive, emotional and spiritual vehicles for these energies. It's about the feelings and powers one feels looking or listening to the work created. Visual works are symbolic, maps of concepts condensed into an image, that when looked at, opens up portals in the mind and soul. All of it together acts as a kind of interconnected trigger to open up doorways to secret realms and arcane power that I hope can help people to expand their consciousness and Spirit. 

Guardians at the threshold by Pereira Irving Paul
(35" X 24",  Mixed media on canvas, 2013)
My concern is in the field of alternative consciousness expansion, of discovering alternate paths to Spiritual unfolding and attainment. I deal with darkness a lot; darkness as a kind of necessity that actually makes you shine brighter as a Light Force. 

I feel that there are people who find it hard to connect with traditional paths of religion and spirituality and I hope that as an artistic and occult vessel, I can create works that 'fringe or esoteric avant-garde lovers' can identify with on some level, that the art can at least point the way to further exploration of unbeaten and extraterrestrial paths. 

TSH: What are your preferred art mediums?

PIP:  If I really had to choose one, I would say pen and paper, it's organic technology. I think marks made with ink grounds 'far out ideas' into something earthy (paper) and Ink has more permanence than say charcoal or graphite and I wish to earth certain energies and keep it here for future generations to tune into. Black makes things possible; all colours vanish into the black so in a way I think black contains all spectrums.  It also represents mystery and the hidden universe, which I love exploring using art. 

TSH: A quote from you on the works you've produced for this exhibition or your philosophy in life in general.

PIP:  I believe in having and living a rich interior life. That is where magic and art co-exists as one. Both are creative powers, magic and art is one and the same. External manifestations may pass away but an inner life lives forever. I believe it is what we continue into after the physical body dies and the inner life is intimately connected to a much immense, more powerful form of Life Force that is ever present and eternal. I think it’s important to stay true to the inner life no matter how alien or 'scary' or weird. If it is empowering in some way to you, then it's a power that should be developed and honed. For more information please visit